Tagata Pasifika

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Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Aucklanders face rising costs as council revenue jumps

Ōtara-Papatoetoe local board chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia with board members. Photo: Supplied
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Local Democracy Reporting | Free Public Interest News Service

It’s been a “good week for finance” for Auckland Council, but community advocates say South Aucklanders are facing mounting financial pressure.

Auckland Council yesterday [Thursday] posted its half-year results for the six months ending December 31, 2023.

The group’s total revenue was up 11.4% on the same period in 2022, bringing revenue to $4.75 billion with a $1.36b surplus after tax.

Following the announcement on NZX, acting chief financial officer Nicola Mills told councillors at Auckland’s town hall that “it was a good week for finances” for the group.

Chief executive Phil Wilson said the council’s revenue bump was largely from rates rises, an increase in the number of ratepayers in Auckland, a targeted waste management rate and an extra $102 million coming from developers.

The council’s interim report showed rates revenue went from $2.3b in the second half of 2022 to $2.5b at the end of last year.

However, Ōtara-Papatoetoe local board chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia said that while rates rises are an essential revenue stream for local boards and the council, South Auckland homeowners are struggling to keep up.

He said Mayor Wayne Brown’s proposed long-term plan (LTP) is the perfect time to re-evaluate revenue streams.

Brown’s LTP proposes a further lift for Auckland ratepayers at a mid-level of a 7.5% increase, which could squeeze already strained households even further.

Although homeownership is at its lowest levels in Māngere, Ōtāhuhu, Ōtara and Papatoetoe, Autagavaia said increasing costs for landlords are often passed on to tenants.

He said many South Auckland homeowners are also entering retirement, which makes it even more difficult to fund rates rises.

Tenants Protection Association’s Angela Maynard said Auckland renters are reporting rent rises of $100-$150 a week.

“Any increase in interest rates will eventually impact on tenants as there are no rent controls over how much an increase can be,” Maynard said.

This week, Te Pūtea Matua the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) held the official cash rate (OCR) at 5.5%, holding back interest rate rises for the next three months.

PMN News reported in January that rising rent costs have led some Māngere families to cut back on essentials like food to cover school uniform and supply costs.

I AM Māngere chief executive Toni Helleur said parents are struggling just to meet daily basic needs, which is a human right.

“Food is the first thing you cut off your budget to allow the purchase of your school uniforms for the year, which is about $350 per child.”

Wilson said in the report a major milestone was purchase of two hectares of land in Manurewa to extend the Auckland Botanic Gardens “as a treasured asset that offers educational, ecological and cultural experiences for visitors and future generations”.

The purchase took place last October after the sale of Auckland Airport shares, South Auckland early childcare centres and massive staff cuts at the council.

“We use debt to spread the cost of assets over the generations who will benefit,” Wilson said.

He said the group’s net debt went from $11.4b in 2022 to $11.9b in the last six months largely thanks to the sale of Auckland Airport shares last year.

Local democracy reporting

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