Proposed levy inflames business


Is view being reinforced that Auckland Chamber of Commerce not ‘fit for purpose”

The Auckland Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the Mayor and all councillors asking them to vote against proposals in the 2016/17 draft Annual Plan to redistribute the temporary three-year levy set last year to raise $180 million to fund needed transport initiatives by imposing more of the costs of the levy on Auckland businesses.

Councillors were scheduled to approve the Annual Plan on Friday 13 May, including proposals to change the levy.

Currently the annual levy is $114 per residential ratepayer and $187 for business ratepayers. The proposals were to reduce the residential levy to $90 and either levy business at $407 or a rate based on capital value.

If the capital value proposal succeeds many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face increases from the current $187 per year to around $3,000. A business with a property valued at $184 million would pay $55,000 yet may not operate any commercial vehicles – the staff may be residential ratepayers already paying the Levy whether or not they drive a car or use public transport.

“The proposals are not supported by any evidence, and clearly politically driven by councillors looking to encourage residents to vote for them by punishing business,” said Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Barnett.

“The option of a Levy against business ratepayers based on property value is outrageous and lacking in logic.”

The chamber has sent a reminder letter to the Mayor and all councillors spelling out the critical facts council has failed to consider and alerting it to the political damage it risks creating in its relationship with business through this ridiculous proposal.

“Just making the proposal is a giant leap backwards for a city and council that wants to attract business investment, employment and build a positive working relationship with the business community,” said Barnett.

“Changing the rules after one year of a three-year agreement without any compelling evidence or justification is short-sighted. It will reinforce a view that council is not yet “fit for purpose” and a long way from showing itself to be business-friendly or strategic.