National | Auckland Council

Rates rises and job cuts likely as Auckland Council faces budget

Auckland’s mayor is signalling more rates rises will be needed as the city faces “big financial challenges” to maintain infrastructure and pay for public transport.

Earlier this year, Auckland Council put rates up by 7.7 percent as part of a plan to plug its $375 million budget hole, including about $50m for storm costs.

The council said rates could increase by 13.75 percent next year, as it looks to once again balance the books.

Today, mayor Wayne Brown said decisions made in the past had caused the current budgetary woes.

“Nobody here is lacking vision, but we are lacking resources and we need to put Auckland on stable footing,” Brown said.

“We must get better value from our strategic assets and make provision for our biggest risks.”

This week, the mayor will release his proposal for the city’s 10-year budget for councillors to discuss, before the long-term plan goes out for public consultation.

“We need to slow down the growth of our capital programme and play catch-up with the associated costs. Now is not the time for new mega projects,” Brown said.

“I want to be confident that we have value out of our current assets and what we are already building, before we acquire more.”

Rates needed to increase and more costs should be cut - including back office jobs, he said.

“Auckland Council has to stop wasting money, and start getting things done faster, better, and cheaper.”

Brown said this could include having Auckland Council and council-controlled organisations share services, such as IT, property management and HR.

Congestion charges were needed but some cycleway projects should be scrapped, he said.

“My plan is to speed up the traffic and cut congestion, which means we need to make better use of what we have.

“I will propose that we continue with time-of-use charging.

“I also want us to maintain progress on speeding up buses through the city with dynamic lanes and affordable rapid transit projects.”

Brown’s proposal includes stopping funding for new raised speed tables and reducing the cost of temporary traffic management.

The running costs of the City Rail Link are expected to account for about 10 per cent of rates paid by Aucklanders.

Brown wanted the region’s transport and water networks better maintained.

“The ongoing costs of owning, operating and maintaining assets have been piling up on our books. Now, they’re overdue,” he said.

“We need to fix our pipes and roads. Auckland’s infrastructure is spread thin and falling into disrepair.”

The city was struggling to keep up with population growth and demands from central government had put pressure on the council, he said.

“Too often, Auckland Council has deferred maintenance works to accommodate new infrastructure works, made worse by unfunded mandates handed down by central government, such as those enabling greenfield developments to intensify at the city’s outskirts.”

The plan will be finalised and adopted next year.


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