Source: Auckland Council
Auckland Council’s 10-Year Budget strikes a balance between economic recovery and sound financial management, Manurewa-Papakura Ward Councillor Daniel Newman says.
He says residents’ ability to pay any increase was never far from his thoughts during the budget process, particularly for those in less affluent areas.
“We all want to see things done and Auckland Council’s ability to make progress hinged on the 10-Year Budget at a time when we were aware of the impacts COVID-19 was going to have.
“The average 3.5 per cent general rates increase over the decade, with a one-off 5 per cent increase this year, will mean a $1 million urban property’s rates rise about $135 a year, and for many that will hurt, but I was committed to a budget that provides us with the ability to continue to invest in core services.
“We have to continue to do things like fund improvements to stormwater infrastructure, core activities like animal management and environmental health, and keep building water infrastructure.
“Failing to do so would see us with the kind of water disasters we’ve seen in Wellington, so while there were tough conversations, I voted for a budget that maintains local services and renews assets.”
Fellow Manurewa-Papakura Councillor Angela Dalton agrees, saying a focus on careful spending has been achieved.
“Sound financial management is important, but we do have to maintain the services we all rely on, and beyond that we have to have an eye on supporting economic recovery locally and regionally.
“Aucklanders should know we had some difficult discussions around doing things differently, being leaner and reducing staff. That’s never easy because the decisions you make affect real people and their ability to provide for their loved ones.”
But she says the council’s largest-ever capital expenditure programme, $31.8 billion, will keep the city running and help build for the future.
“We have gone for a rate rise, higher short-term debt, asset sales and $90 million in annual savings for the next two years. Calls for us to live within our means have been listened to.”
Both councillors say without the rate increase hundreds of millions of dollars of capital expenditure and infrastructure jobs would have gone, but the budget allows for continued investment in critical areas, funding core services, developing infrastructure and keeping Aucklanders employed in construction.
The council had committed to climate improvement, walking and cycling investment, public transport, planting programmes and reducing waste to help cut emissions.
The Budget provides more than $150 million for actions that include regional park native forest planting, more street trees, electric or hydrogen buses, and increasing zero-waste efforts.
At the local level for Manurewa there’s funding allocated to renew Puhinui Creek walking and cycling connections, to improve access to Te Mahia station, and for court coverings at the netball centre.
Manurewa Local Board chair Joseph Allan says regional decisions have a local impact.
“We want our people to enjoy fit-for-purpose facilities that allow them to maintain social connections, stay fit and active, and to stay engaged.
“We also want them safe, so funding for transport improvements around the Coxhead Quarter that make it safer to walk and cycle and use the local streets is good news.”
There’s also $1.3 million for Aquatic Centre renewals and improvements, $2.7 million for the development of a new community centre in Manurewa, funding for Mountfort Park and War Memorial Park projects aimed at providing more usable park hours, and for playgrounds at Gallaher Park and the Manurewa Leisure Centre.
In neighbouring Papakura, board chair Brent Catchpole says $2.2 million for stage one of Hingaia Park will help meet demand for open space brought on by population growth.
“The initial stages include play space infrastructure, entranceway and pathway network, toilets and open green space.
“On top of that there’s funding to develop new parks associated with our growth, and also for development at Kauri Heart Park.
“And the Massey Park Aquatic Centre has $2.7 million in funding in place to renew assets in the well-used facility and maintain its current service levels. That’s very welcome.”
Councillor Newman says there are benefits in regional funding too.
“Extending the water quality and natural environment targeted rates to 2031 will allow major projects to be brought forward. The extra $256 million water rate will deliver improvements for the Manukau Harbour, while the $107 million environment rate will help with programmes protecting native species, in kauri dieback, and in predator and weed control.”
For more about the overall investment package adopted as part of the 10-year Recovery Budget.