Everyone will now know that Auckland Council faces significant losses in income that will affect its budgets for some years to come. With this has come calls to focus on “core business”. Core business is a matter of perspective. If you’re in an infrastructure-poor community, it could mean drinking and waste water, sealing gravel roads. In a fast growing urban setting, it could mean four-lane expressways, public transport and recreational facilities. Core business therefore means different things to the diverse communities across Auckland and Rodney.
For the last six years, your Local Board has been focusing on core business, reflecting your feedback. It’s worth pointing out our primary responsibility is making sure our community facilities, such as halls and parks, are well maintained and accessible and ensure that these are developed to cope with residential growth. Simplifying our plans and focusing on doing a few things effectively has paid off during Covid-19 austerity.
We have just announced $7 million of footpaths across Rodney with the funds being delivered directly back into the communities that contributed to them. Wellsford gets $1.6m for footpaths that the community has been requesting for decades, $2.6m of footpaths for communities in Warkworth, Leigh and Puhoi. This is at a time when other Local Boards have lost all their discretionary transport funding, setting some projects back for years. The decision to take control of our own transport funding through the Rodney Transport Targeted Rate has been a good one. We’re getting infrastructure delivered quickly to the communities that need it.
This month, we are back into budget negotiations. Our expectations realistically need to be pitched low, given the lack of funding that will be available for large-scale capital projects.
Initiatives where we have direct control over budgets include improvements to our village and town centres, work on community facilities (including Wellsford toilets and the Mahurangi community centre), improving water quality in our waterways (and initiatives to reduce sediment), and improving the natural environment by eradicating pests and restoration work.
Our advocacy goals (ones for which we do not control the budgets) include allocating funding from the $121m budget for Auckland Transport’s Unsealed Roads Improvement Programme to improve unsealed roads, and adequate funding for Auckland Transport to ensure safe, well-maintained roads.
We see our role as one of working collaboratively with the Mayor, councillors and staff to quietly get our work programme delivered for the community that elected us. You will not see us publicly grandstanding on issues, because we have found our strategy over the last six years has delivered results for you. Politics is about numbers. All the posturing in the world does not substitute for having a majority of councillors, and the Mayor, supportive of the goals in our Local Board Plan. That is the only thing that counts when it comes to getting funding.
We need you to provide feedback on our budget plans. Having thousands of submissions from our community is absolutely essential when we make our case. Between February 22 and March 22, please take a few minutes to go online and provide feedback, Google ‘ak have your say’ and look for the 10 Year Budget 2021-2031.
Phelan Pirrie, chair Rodney Local Board