Press Release – Mark Thomas
Rates Freeze And Targeted Growth Option In Year One
Auckland Mayoral Candidate Mark Thomas has announcing that if elected Mayor he will give Aucklanders an option to freeze rates in his first year’s budget.
Thomas made his comments when he appeared on the Paul Henry breakfast show.
“Auckland Council needs to earn the trust of Aucklanders. Although our region needs significant investment to cope with previous underinvestment and with growth challenges, Aucklanders don’t trust council with the way it spends money.”
“I will give ratepayers a specific option to freeze rates next year as well as a clear alternative option to support growth in their area.”
“In last year’s 10-year budget consultation, 90% of respondents asked for a reduction in the $610M per annum Governance and Support Budget. Instead the Mayor increased this.”
In the most recent Residents Brand Health and Values Survey, only 34% of Aucklanders trust council to make the right decisions.
“Last week’s shambles around the Unitary Plan will have eroded this further. To expect Aucklanders to support council, we need to give back more meaningful control to ratepayers and that’s what I will do as Mayor.”
Thomas said his rates freeze will cost around $35 million or 1% of council’s $3.5 billion per annum budget. He had discussed his plan with key council finance staff who confirmed it was achievable.
“The best option for Auckland is to continue to invest and grow and I will put that case. But I also want to put the case for living within our means.”
“Phil Goff has announced an unfunded billion dollar light rail and today another mayoral candidate has promised a paltry 10% rates reduction over the years.”
“Aucklanders will be rightly underwhelmed by a lack of fiscal responsibility from Phil Goff, and a lack of ambition from Palino.”
“My budget will spell out specifically the activities I propose to be removed or deferred and I want communities to help me identify this during my campaign. It will include abandoning much of the planning and coordinating which produces things like the $348,000 Auckland Arts Plan, and the more than $350,000 being spent coordinating the Tripartite Summit in May.”
“It will include a reduction in transport ‘gold-plating’ that occurs and in council’s information technology ‘black hole’.
Thomas said his alternative growth fund will ask people to support a rates investment that is targeted to specific projects in their area, and he would make a start on local board top priorities.