The colours aren't that easy to tell apart, but the top line is local authority rates, which appear to be on an inexorable rise, through good times and bad. The line that drops sharply at the end is 'other private transport services', where you see the big impact of recently lower ACC levies on the cost of licensing your car.
That remorseless rise in the rates bill got me thinking, so I've done a little bit of research, and here is how the rates, average weekly total earnings, and overall inflation have behaved over the same period, all rebased to 1000 in mid 2006, and all seasonally adjusted. Over the whole period, prices in general rose by 20%, weekly earnings rose by 35%, and the rates - well, the rates rose by 60%.
But I can't help feeling that there's an argument that the electoral discipline doesn't look very binding. At a national level, it's true that politicians can generally no longer get away with bribing the electorate with its own money - there's a great deal more transparency about the costs of lolly scrambles - but is the same scrutiny as effective at local authority level? And even assuming that all is politically hunky dory, did councils really deliver a 33% real (above inflation) increase in services to us all over that period? Doesn't feel like it. And I don't see any efficiency dividend from Auckland amalgamation in the rates graph*.
I don't have the answers, but I do have a question: are rates rises out of control?
*Addendum Oct 28 - Subsequent (separate) comments have pointed out that Auckland has had one of the lowest increases in rates since 2006, and that total rates collected in Auckland have fallen since 2009, so there may be an efficiency dividend after all.