News

May 29, 2018

Budget breaks promises

The ‘build-it-budget’ revealed today is more of a broken-promise-budget.

This budget is littered with new spending on pet projects in arts, sports, and environment. And it replicates central government initiatives on poverty and homelessness, a type of black hole spending that will just grow and grow.

Phil Goff has completely failed to keep his pre-election promises. He said he would limit rate hikes to 2.5 percent. Instead, rates are increasing by over six percent once new levies and charges are counted. The new tax on landlords is just the latest desperate revenue grab, announced without consultation.

Phil Goff said he’d cut wasteful spending by at least three percent. Instead, he is increasing waste and largess, throwing money at nice-to-haves while core services suffer.

Perhaps most disgraceful is the Council’s approach to consultation. They have tried to exclude submissions made through the Ratepayers’ Alliance website, and they also claim that a Facebook poll showing opposition to fuel taxes was posted in ‘error’.

Thursday’s vote on this Budget will be a roll call for Councillors, who will prove whether they believe in defending ratepayers or hammering them.

May 11, 2018

Last chance to expose Phil Goff's fuel tax fib

With the Long Term Plan submission process over, and the enabling legislation still working through Parliament, Auckland Council is now required to re-do public consultation on the regional fuel tax before it can be introduced.

Mayor Phil Goff is claiming that a fuel tax is the only way for the Council to afford new transport infrastructure. In fact, this is the premise of the whole consultation process and material.

Don't be fooled.

As shown in our "Fuel Tax Fact Check" the Council could afford all of its transport projects if Mr Goff kept his pre-election promise to cut wasteful spending and find efficiencies of just 3-6 percent.

Will you take a moment to submit through our website on the new round of consultation?

You can share your view on the fuel tax (or use our suggested wording) here.

Your message will be sent straight to the Council’s consultation inbox, where the Council will be obligated to process it as a formal submission.

--> Click here to submit against the regional fuel tax. <--

It will take as little as 30 seconds. Submissions close on Monday at 8pm.

Thank you for your support in holding the Council, and the Mayor, to account.

May 05, 2018

Fuel tax fact check

The regional fuel tax would not be needed if Phil Goff simply met his election promise of finding efficiency savings at Auckland Council.

Auckland Council is currently seeking public consultation on their plans to introduce a $150 million regional fuel tax. We are encouraging our members and supporters to have their say on Phil Goff’s latest attempt to open the wallets of Auckland ratepayers.

There has been lots of propaganda from the Council’s spin-doctors on the fuel tax. The record needs to be corrected. 

“We need the regional fuel tax to pay for infrastructure!”

Wrong.

If Phil Goff simply met his election promise to find efficiency savings of 3-6 percent across Council expenditure, then the regional fuel tax wouldn’t be required. Auckland Council can pay for infrastructure AND avoid the regional fuel tax if it takes its commitments to cut waste seriously.

Based on $150 million of revenue from the regional fuel tax and total Council expenditure of $3.8 billion in the 16/17 financial year, if Auckland Council found just four percent efficiency savings in its budget, the fuel tax would not be needed. 

Auckland Council needs to trim its expenditure - as promised - before it squeezes ratepayers for more revenue.

“The regional fuel tax is just replacing the Interim Transport Levy.”

Wrong.

The regional fuel tax is expected to raise more than twice as much revenue ($150 million per year) as the interim transport levy ($60 million per year). According to the AA, the average motorist should expect to pay about $125 more a year from the regional fuel tax. That means households with even just one average motorist will find themselves worse off after the fuel tax is introduced.

Larger families, especially ones that live in the outer suburbs, will find their effective financial burden climb significantly. While the interim transport levy was $114 a year, a family with two average motorists will find their fuel bill climb by approximately $250 a year.

"Only motorists will pay the tax."

Wrong.

Every business that relies on transportation in Auckland will find their costs increase as a result of the regional fuel tax. Naturally those costs will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. That means all Aucklanders - including those who aren't motorists - will be hurt by the regional fuel tax.

Update: Council required to reconsult on fuel tax - have your say now

The legislation allowing the regional fuel tax before Parliament requires Auckland Council to reconsult on the fuel tax - in addition to the consultation last month on the Long Term Plan. Submissions on the fuel tax proposal close on Monday 14 May at 8pm.

-> Click here to make a submission on the regional fuel tax. <-

April 01, 2018

Loud and clear: Aucklanders give the Council a strong message

Together with ratepayers across Auckland, we sent more than 7,400 submissions to Auckland Council saying no to Phil Goff's cuts to waste services, hikes in rates, and his proposed regional fuel tax.

Thanks to the generous financial support of our supporters, yesterday's NZ Herald ran these full page ads so that the Council is in no doubt about where ratepayers stand.

Newspaper ad
You can view the ad by clicking here.

Next steps: fighting to retain weekly waste collection

Following our submission on the Long Term Plan (10-Year Budget), we are now focusing on the Waste Plan and will be presenting to Councillors in early May to tell them to bin their proposal to reduce general waste collection from a weekly to a fortnightly service.

To stay up to date with how we get on, sign up to our updates here.

March 23, 2018

We’ve made it easy for you to be heard on the 10-year budget.

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Eighteen months ago, Aucklanders elected Phil Goff on a platform of tackling wasteful Council spending, ‘doing more with less’, and capping rates rises to 2.5% per year.

Despite those promises Mr Goff has now proposed a 10-year budget (also known as the "Long Term Plan") that locks in general rate rises of at least 3.5% in eight of the next ten years.

In addition, the Mayor wants:

1. New "targeted" rates

Despite being elected on a platform to limit rate hikes, Phil Goff is now saying that only applied to "general rates".  He's sneakily trying to get around his election 'pledge' by inventing new "targeted rates" such as his proposed ‘natural environment targeted rate’ - which applies to every ratepayer!

2. A regional fuel tax

An 11.5cent per litre fuel tax sets the Council up to dig even deeper into our pockets. According to the AA the fuel tax will cost, on average, $135 per year - much more than Len Brown's 'transport levy'. For larger families, or ones who commute from outer suburbs, the amount is likely to be even greater.

What's worse, it is not even guaranteed that the money raised by the fuel tax will be used for roading! Unless we act now, it may very well end up paying for cycleways and light rail trams.

3. Reducing weekly general waste-collection to fortnightly

At the same time the Council is consulting on the 10-year budget, it is also trying to sneak through a new Auckland-wide waste management system that will cut general rubbish collection to a fortnightly service. Our economist has uncovered that while the new planned services 'standardise' kerbside waste services across Auckland, they do so at an enormous increase in costs and result in a reduced service.  As an example, the Council is proposing a new costly food scraps pickup scheme, that all ratepayers will be paying for, even if you don't use it.

All this extra revenue could be justified if the Council or Mayor had followed through on their promises to cut wasteful spending, finding the efficiencies Mr Goff promised, and directing the savings into infrastructure spending. But the documents show that none of this is happening.

Submissions are due in just five days - have your say now.

The good news is that we have made it easy for you to be heard. We have had an economist, working with our researcher, read the lengthy documents involved and write a submission targeting the issues named above.

You can read our full submission here.

We've made it easy for you to make a submission on any (or all) of the issues above.

--> Click here to submit on the Council’s failure to tackle wasteful spending and the plan to break pre-election promises on rates.

--> Click here to submit against the proposed regional fuel tax.

--> Click here to submit on the proposed Auckland-wide waste management system which will see refuse collection halved for most Aucklanders.

Every submission counts to send a message to Council that they need to provide value for money to ratepayers, and deliver on the Mayor’s promise of doing more with less.

March 12, 2018

ATEED staff paid to entertain media, superyacht owners at tennis

ASB ClassicThe Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance can reveal that ATEED hosted 76 ‘stakeholders’ at the 2018 ASB Classic. The high-flying guests were given free tickets, and across 10 days were wined and dined by 18 ATEED staff on the taxpayer dollar.

Guests included two councillors (Penny Hulse and Richard Hills,) two new investor migrants, an unnamed ‘superyacht owner’, and high-flyers from banks, SkyCity, Callaghan Innovation, the NZ Cruise Association, and more.

The total cost of hosting came to $4,467.21, but presumably far more significant were the wages paid to the ATEED staff to hobnob.

This expense is in addition to ATEED’s sponsorship of the event itself. The total sponsorship hasn’t yet been made public, but we know they gave $175,000 to event organisers in previous years.

We say ATEED staff are paid large salaries to serve ratepayers, not schmooze corporates at the tennis.

ATEED seems to think ‘economic development’ is about paying bureaucrats to grease up to chief execs and journalists. But Auckland ratepayers might see things differently.

You don’t pay your rates so the Council can shout superyacht owners tickets to the tennis. Even the fringe ratepayer-subsidised youth outfit The Spinoff had three staff get tickets. This is exactly the sort of nonsense wasteful spending Phil Goff promised to cut.

Next year ATEED should just flog off their spare tickets on TradeMe – or perhaps shout some ordinary ratepayers.

Full list of ATEED guests:

Client/stakeholder organisation Number of attendees
Investor or talent attraction stakeholder
ANZ 5
New investor migrant 2
Stern Yokohama Higashi Co Ltd 1
Private housing consultant 1
Innovation stakeholder  
Fonterra 1
Callaghan Innovation 1
Tourism operator  
Matakana Estate 1
Keppel Cove Marina 1
Jet Tour 1
Superyacht owner 1
Tourism stakeholder  
BNZ 1
Pango Entertainment 1
Tuwharetoa 1
South Pacific Pictures 1
Johnson & Laird 1
Ngai Tahu 1
Christchurch Airport 1
Air New Zealand 1
NZ Cruise Association 3
Business growth  
EKO360 2
STL 1
Brisbane Marketing 1
Holland Partner Group 2
Media  
NZME 6
Fairfax 2
TVNZ 1
The Newsroom 3
Newshub 3
Bauer Media 2
The Spinoff 3
Freelance 1
Major events partner  
Te Wananga o Aotearoa 2
NZ Warriors 2
Orange Productions 1
Ticketek 1
NZ Breakers 1
Business events partner  
SkyCity 3
Auckland Advocate Alliance 5
The Production & Music Agency 2
International education  
Broadspectrum 1
Education NZ 2
TOTAL clients/stakeholders 73
Elected members 2
Guest of elected member 1
Total 76

The full ATEED response given to the Ratepayers' Alliance is here:

February 01, 2018

Ratepayers paying for promotion of sex parties (UPDATED)

Warning: this post has adult themes, graphic language, and links to content readers may find disturbing.  If you are easily offended, stop reading. 

The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance is asking questions about ATEED’s sponsorship of Pride Festival events like KIWIFIST 2018.
 
Screen_shot_of_ATEED_sponsored_website.pngThe R16 event is part of Pride’s February 2-18 festival. It is described on the ATEED-sponsored website as ‘New Zealand’s biggest arse-play event’, and advises attendees to ‘BYO toys and lubes’ for ‘a full-on, five-hour-plus, gathering of gay and bi men into fisting and arse-play big-time’.
 
Not all ratepayers will be happy that their money is being used to promote KIWIFIST.
 
The Ratepayers’ Alliance does not believe ratepayers should be subsiding sex parties, regardless of the sexual orientation of those involved.
 
Our spokesperson, Jo Holmes, told media:

"I'm certainly not someone who would have concern with Pride, however I have concerns personally as a member of the gay community with the direction Pride is going with its events, and as a spokesperson for ratepayers, I can see no justification at all for ATEED to be sponsoring an event like KIWIFIST." 

"Sex parties do not benefit the general ratepayer."

When we approached ATEED, they refused to say how much money Pride has received for the Festival and the promotion of its events. They instead insisted we go through the slow and bureaucratic LGOIMA process. We think this is an appalling disregard for transparency, clearly motivated by concern from ATEED’s PR team

How can ATEED defend this spending, when they claim poverty, and even introduced a hotel tax last year, apparently for the very event promotion budget this money was allocated from?

Phil Goff pledged he’d stop the Council wasting money on non-core Council business.  Sex parties are not core Council business.

If you are outraged by Phil Goff’s use of your money on KIWIFIST – please chip in so we can hold the Council to account.

UPDATE: ATEED respond to Ratepayers' Alliance

ATEED have now confirmed that at least $40,000 of ratepayer money was used to fund the Auckland Pride Festival, but are desperately trying to dance on the head of a pin by claiming that it was only meant to promote the Pride Parade.

This is wrong.  ATEED is the primary sponsor of the entire two-week Festival, which includes KIWIFIST.  

An ATEED Spokesperson told media that your humble Ratepayers' Alliance is lying - that the first they ever heard linking ATEED to KIWIFIST was our media realise.

Here is a screenshot showing ATEED as the primary sponsor of the Pride Festival (and listing KIWIFIST).  Judge for yourself:

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November 30, 2017

A rates rise Len Brown would be proud of - 6.2% increase planned

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Last month, we asked whether Phil Goff would keep his rates promise.

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He didn't.

Phil Goff promised to limit rates hikes to 2.5% and deliver cost savings within the Council. He hasn’t even tried. These new targeted rates, which bring the average rates rise to 6.2% next year, are a sneaky and dishonest attempt to get around what was a cast iron election promise.


Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance spokesperson, Jo Holmes, responded:

"While the Council’s spin doctors are working hard to say it matches Mr Goff’s promise to keep rate hikes at 2.5%, no one will be falling for it when they open next year’s rates bill." 

"Despite being a Labour Party Mayor, this budget is extremely regressive. It will hurt those in the outer and poorer suburbs the most."


The AA estimates the new fuel tax will cost the average motorist $135 extra per year. That means blue-collar and shift workers in South Auckland — the very people who can least afford it — will be hit the hardest. So too will those households with more than one vehicle. It’s immoral that the proceeds will be used for water infrastructure which only benefits the affluent inner suburbs. This runs counter to everything the Labour Party is supposed to stand for.

Mr Goff claims that replacing the interim transport levy with the fuel tax is a question of fairness. He’s completely right – it’s unfair.

 The fuel tax is estimated to cost the average motorist $135 a year, while the interim transport levy only cost $114 a year per household. A household with two motorists commuting to work and dropping kids off at school will find the amount they pay for transport in Auckland will more than double.

November 29, 2017

Council again trying to block public from having say

Auckland Council is at it again. Last week, Auckland Councillors voted to prevent ratepayers and members of the public giving their views to councillors at public hearings on the Council’s proposed Long-Term Plan (also known as the ten-year budget).

Councillors were hoping that the Mayor's plan to exclude the public went unnoticed.

Councillors Greg Sayers and Daniel Newman put forward an amendment to the Mayor’s proposed consultation plan. The amendment would have allowed the public to submit on the ten-year budget at public hearings — as every other council allows for, and occurred in Auckland under Len Brown.

The Council voted the amendment down, by ten votes to nine.

You can read our public comments on the vote here.

This isn't the first time Phil Goff has tried to block ratepayers from having their say. In March we exposed the Council for blocking ratepayers (including your humble Ratepayers' Alliance) from giving oral submissions on the Annual Plan. Our efforts back then saw a U-turn, and that is what we need to force on the Council again.

The 10-year budget could lock the Council into its high rate hikes agenda. That's why we need Aucklanders to voice their concerns and stand up for democracy.

If you agree that the public should be able to make oral submissions to councillors click here to send an email to the Councillors.

Tell the councillors who voted against public submissions what you think of their attempt to silence the Council's critics.

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Click here to send an email to the Councillors now.

Things we'd like to talk to the Council about (if they let us)

Phill Goff was elected on the promise to cut out wasteful Council spending. Clearly, that's just not happening.

A leaked report last month revealed ratepayer money is funding the salaries of 234 in-house spin doctors, costing $45.6 million per year.

We were also in the media on the Council's spending of $1.1 million of our rates on international travel in 20 months. Almost half of which was spent on 62 business-class flights - that's $509,212 or an average of $8,213 per trip. We say there is little reason why ratepayers should be paying for Auckland Council's 7,000 bureaucrats to live the high-life in business class when travelling economy will do. 

Incredibly the Council's CEO, Stephen Town, shut down debate on the issue and blocked debate of a motion put forward at the Council to stop business and premier class travel. Again, this Council just doesn't believe in democracy.

Thank you for your support while we fight for ratepayers.

November 24, 2017

Auckland revaluations – winners and losers

Auckland Council’s new capital valuations were released on Monday. The relative change in the CVs determine the level of rates homeowners will be responsible for over the next three years, starting July 2018.

The average increase in CV is 45% - that’s the most important figure for homeowners. If your property has increased in value by more than 45% you should expect to see an increase in rates, whereas if your property value increase is less than 45%, you shouldn’t see a large spike in your rates – in fact, some people may see their rates bill fall.

The revaluations have effectively been a catch-up story – while central suburbs in the Auckland isthmus are notoriously expensive, their increase in value has been outstripped by significant increases in South Auckland.

For example, broken down by local board, capital valuations increased by 55% in Mangere-Otahuhu; 53% in Manurewa; 61% in Papakura; and 62% in Otara-Papatoetoe. If you live in South Auckland, or own property there, big rates rises could be on the cards.

Properties in the Kaipatiki Local Board area only had their CVs increase by an average of 39% - homeowners in Birkenhead and Northcote Point should expect to be pleased with their rates bill, all things considered.

You can look up your own property on the Council’s website here www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/property-rates-valuations.