Rates reductions slashed

Ratepayers in West Auckland look set to lose out by millions of dollars over the next three years as the city moves to a capital value-based rates model.

Auckland Council has amalgamated rates across eight legacy councils and is moving to the new system over a transition period. That means many in the west will have to wait for expected reductions in their bills.

Residents in the Whau, Henderson-Massey and Waitakere Ranges local board areas could have received an average 11.68 per cent decrease but will now have an average drop of 2.37 per cent. Businesses will get relief to the tune of 0.8 per cent on average instead of the 8.93 per cent hoped for.

Farm and lifestyle properties will receive an average cut of 4.73 per cent instead of the 22.64 per cent expected.

The reduction on residential, farm or lifestyle properties will be capped at 5.6 per cent to ensure the maximum increase for ratepayers across the region will not surpass 10 per cent.

Mayor Len Brown says West Auckland benefits from the move more than any other part of Auckland with 56,000 households seeing a decrease when their bill arrives.

But Henderson Massey Local Board chairwoman Vanessa Neeson is not impressed that the three-year wait will cost ratepayers millions in her area.

"That $7.5m is coming directly out of our community. We have some of the poorest areas in Auckland and for them a drop in the rates bill means shoes on their kids' feet and food on the table," she says.

Business rates will not be capped, but the change in their bills will be brought in gradually over the next three years. Some businesses in West Auckland face an increase of more than 15 per cent.

Mr Brown says this is the fairest way to put the new system into place.

"Everyone wants a decrease but the cap will only be in place over the transition period. I'm hoping that people see that it is a particularly difficult thing to bring in a new rates system.

"Many people are also able to get the rates rebate that is available." he says.

The uniform annual general charge was $767 under the former Waitakere City Council. Super-city residents will now pay $350.

Whau Local Board chairman Derek Battersby says the transition is the fairest way overall.

"The west does reasonably well out of the changes. Sure, it's fair for those that get a relief and unfair for those that don't but it's the best way forward," he says.

The total rates increase throughout Auckland will be capped at 3.6 per cent for the 2012-2013 year.

The bills start appearing in letterboxes this week.

Western Leader