Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown says Government should 'pay rates like everyone else'

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown is asking the central Government to "pay rates like everyone else" on its properties in the city. 

Brown says it will bring in $36.3 million for the city. 

In a statement on Wednesday, he said it was unfair the Government doesn't pay rates even though it uses council services. 

Publicly owned buildings in Auckland include prisons and hospitals. 

"Why should central Government get a free ride? They use our infrastructure but don't pay the bill," Brown said. 

"This is already a key ask in my manifesto for an Auckland deal. I know there is appetite for it, politically and publicly." 

He said the millions of dollars the Government is currently "exempt" from could be returned to the council for the upkeep of services to these properties. 

Other buildings, including airports, port land, other transport use land, wharves, jetties and churches are also non-rateable. 

Brown said there needed to be reform on "old Government laws like this". 

He said current rules were allowing private enterprises to "get a free ride when Aucklanders are struggling to make ends meet".  

"It seems odd to me that a multi-billion dollar listed company such as Auckland International Airport Ltd is sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of non-rateable land, when everyday Aucklanders are doing it tough. 

"Aucklanders are being shortchanged. We put more into Treasury's coffers than we get in return.  

"We want a fair share of the revenue Auckland generates and, in this instance, the Government is smart enough to recognise this." 

The council estimated the total value of GST on rates in 2023/24 was $415.3 million.  

"If that money was returned to Aucklanders, it would enable rates to be 15 percent lower (a reduction in rates of 7.5 percent for the average household for the next financial year instead of the 7.5 percent increase proposed in the Long-term Plan central scenario, out now for public consultation)," the council said.  

"Staff estimates show for the 24/25 financial year, that would be an average savings per household of $506.40." 

Brown said reform would bring Auckland in better alignment with overseas counterparts. 

"In size and scope, we are more akin to a state government in Australia. Australian states receive 45 percent of their revenue through transfers from the federal government; Auckland Council receives a paltry 12 percent.  

"No wonder we can't keep up," he said. 

He also said Auckland was straining under the cost of residential growth and wants to receive a share of GST collected on new builds too. 

"It also doesn't make sense that council doesn't receive a share of GST collected on new builds; we have to foot the bill for the infrastructure and other amenities needed for new builds, yet the money goes to Wellington?"