Auckland Council approves 10-year budget with big increases in rates and water bills

Auckland councillors have approved a “Recovery Budget” that will increase rates by 5 per cent from July, but hit households with hefty rate and water bill increases over 10 years.

Mayor Phil Goff said the budget will do great things for the city and protect the services and infrastructure the city needs.

“We have tried to get the best we can for the city, that is what the people of Auckland expect from us, and we have delivered.

“We have a middle ground of support.”

Goff said the city’s Recovery Budget is the single largest infrastructure package in its history costed at $31.8 billion, up nearly $6b on the previous 10-year budget in 2018.

The budget was passed unanimously, but several councillors raised concerns over a gloomy outlook for hundreds of community assets like libraries, halls, community centres, arts venues and playgrounds where there could be no money to upgrade or replace them.

Despite community assets getting an extra $900 million over the next 10 years, the money will not be enough to save some facilities from closure or possible sale.

Councillors Shane Henderson, Daniel Newman and Wayne Walker had their vote recorded against the community services package.

Four councillors had their vote recorded against the 5 per cent increase – John Watson, Wayne Walker, Sharon Stewart and Greg Sayers.

Watson said the “borrow, sell and rate model” adopted in the budget is not sustainable.

The budget will see household rates rise by an average of 5 per cent and water bills rise by 7 per cent from July.

The 5 per cent rate rise is a one-off followed by rate rises of 3.5 per cent thereafter.

Household water bills rise by 7 per cent over the next two years followed by 9.5 per cent over the following six years and 3.5 per cent in the remaining two years.

Over 10 years the average household rates bill will go up from $2810 to $4018 and the average water bill from $1069 to $2261.

That’s an overall average increase of 62 per cent in council costs for a typical Auckland household.

The budget also includes $152m for climate change, but councillors Pippa Coom and Chris Darby called for more to be done.

“The council has to have a reset and do things different if we are going to address climate change,” Coom said.

“We are just scratching the surface,” Darby said.

Councillors also voted to pump an extra $182m for renewals at the city’s venues, including North Harbour and Mt Smart stadiums, the zoo and repairsto the Auckland Art Gallery.

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