Big decisions take shape today over how much Aucklanders pay to run their city - and what they will get - as the council finalises its draft 10-year budget.
Higher rates rises are being floated as one option, as the city seeks ways of funding ambitious projects, including the City Rail Link, while keeping a lower cap on rates rises and borrowing.
There is political tension about what to cut from the previous plan revised three years ago, and which forecast annual rates rises of 4.9 per cent.
Mayor Len Brown has proposed rises of 2.5 percent in each of the next two years, then rising to 3.5 percent.
As well as tightening spending, the proposal would prioritise transport investments, meaning a shorter list than previously expected of community and local projects.
Councillors will debate an option allowing more community spending, if they increase rates by an extra 1 percent in the next two years.
Mr Brown hopes to start the $2.4 billion City Rail Link in 2016, before government co-funding begins in 2020.
The council said that project is paid for by borrowing and, until it is finished, does not affect other spending.
Once the draft Long Term Plan is agreed, the public would be consulted early next year, prior to it being finalised.