Residents in Tauranga, one of our fastest growing cities, could be paying nearly 13 per cent more in rates following a draft decision by council today.
During what could be described as theatrical debate, councillors argued why and how the increase was necessary.
Deputy mayor Larry Baldock moved a motion to increase rates by 12.6 per cent for the next financial year, allowing for a capital programme of $244 million.
He says without it “sewage will spill into the water” and for a reasonable increase the council will get on with building a great city.
The drafts rates rise was voted in six to five this afternoon.
Earlier today, Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webster told councillors they needed to “grow some balls and get on with it” as he proposed a 17.6 per cent increase.
He was quoting an elderly woman who attended a meeting in Greerton.
However, Councillor Steve Morris says talk that residents aren’t “doing their part” is a “myth” and rate payers are already paying more than Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.
A myth, he says, which has reached central government, who are being fed the wrong analysis.
Councillor Andrew Hollis says we need to have confidence in analysis and not increase rates, “only to impress external agencies that we have skin in the game”.
New councillor Jako Arbrie suggested an amendment by bumping debt management by another 2.5 per cent, which was voted down.
He was worried by the volume of renters and the affects a rise in rates could have.
Mayor Tenby Powell was firm in his view, pulling up residents who were judgmental of the proposed hikes.
He was critical of those reluctant to pay for future growth, by locking out those out wanting to move here, saying “this is Tauranga, not a fortified, walled city of ancient Europe”.
“Increasingly I feel less like the mayor and more like the janitor, constantly sweeping up yesterday’s mess due to visionless leadership and an abject lack of courage.”
He described Tauranga as an “amenity desert” with aging infrastructure and swimming pools “so outdated, they are not fit for purpose”.
Today’s decision will go out for public consultation before councillors make a final decision.