Rates Freeze: Dunedin City Council Sets An Example, Cuts Salaries

Press Release – New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union

Responding to news that Dunedin City Council’s executive leadership team are taking pay cuts for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says:

“This is a sensible decision that acknowledges the pressures currently faced by households. It also sets an example for other councils across the country who may be looking for ways to demonstrate they understand the hardships faced by ratepayers.”

“We also welcome the likelihood of a rates freeze. This is a measure we are campaigning for nationwide, with 4000 New Zealanders signing a petition on the idea. However, Dunedin City Council should look at covering the revenue shortfall with further cost cutting. We’d suggest a closer look at the full list of 99 council staff paid salaries above $100,000.”

“We’re interested to see the Mayor attempt to cut his own salary. Incredibly, the Remuneration Authority is trying to step in. They need to wake up or be put in their place. A better move would be to adjust politicians’ salaries downward to reflect current pressures.”

“In the meantime we’d suggest Mayor Hawkins ask for forgiveness instead of permission, and arrange with his CEO a way to repay a portion of his salary to the Council’s general funds. Other Councillors could follow suit.”

Waikato Regional Council has also signaled a rates freeze. Marlborough District Council will vote on a near-freeze. Wellington City Council has deferred a vote on a 9.2% rate hike while it considers options for rates mitigation. At Christchurch City Council, six councillors have asked the Mayor to consider a rates freeze. Hutt City Council plans a ‘significant’ reduction in a scheduled 7.9% rate hike.

As of yesterday, Auckland Council still plans to proceed with scheduled rate hikes.

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