Mayor Phil Goff is proposing a "one-off" 5 percent rates increase to help Auckland Council deal with an "unprecedented" $1 billion loss in revenue caused by COVID-19.
Releasing the mayoral proposal for Auckland's 10-year budget, Goff says "we need to take more urgent action now".
"This recovery budget aims to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the massive financial impact it has had on the city, while ensuring that the burden on ratepayers is kept as low and fair as possible," Goff says.
"This not a slash-and-burn budget but it's also not the budget we had hoped to put out at the start of the year. We have to accept that COVID has changed our financial landscape and change our plans accordingly."
The budget responds to the COVID-19 loss by:
- Locking in savings of at least $90 million each year for the next three years
- Selling surplus properties to invest in critical infrastructure
- Temporarily increasing borrowing for three years by lifting the debt-to-revenue ratio to up to 290 percent, then returning to the current level
- Increasing rates by 5 percent by one year before returning to 3.5 percent the following year
Goff warns without taking these measures "our city will go backwards".
"We don't want a city full of potholes and unkept parks, so we need to take more urgent action now," he says.
"While not all Aucklanders will be thrilled with a one-off rates bump of $36, it is a one-off measure that amounts to less than 70 cents a week for the average property.
"Now is not the time to cut back on fixing our city's infrastructure. We have been catching up on decades of underinvestment through our previous 10-year budget and were making significant progress on our infrastructure deficit. We cannot allow that momentum to be wasted."