Auckland Council’s proposed budget for the next 10 years is in the final stages of development and is open for a month of public feedback.
Under the ongoing shadow of Covid-19, the new long-term plan has been dubbed a “recovery budget” by Mayor Phil Goff and includes the extension of several cost-cutting measures brought in for last year’s emergency budget.
He is proposing a one-off 5 percent increase in general rates in the next financial year, in addition to Council’s commitment to a 3.5 percent annual increase. Mr Goff said this would provide leverage for additional borrowing that would allow $450 million of extra investment over the next 10 years.
“Putting together the 10-year budget for the long-term plan 2021-2031 has been the most challenging in the life of this Council,” he said. “We celebrate being one of the most successful countries in the world in managing to stop the spread of the virus; we have prevented thousands of deaths and the overwhelming of our hospital system and we have regained the freedoms of living normally. However, the cost to jobs, incomes, businesses and Council itself in financial terms has been very real.”
Mr Goff said that while prudent and responsible financial management was essential, he had opted against an austerity budget.
“That would slow our recovery, put our services and the condition of our assets at risk and further delay the construction of infrastructure needed to catch up with the city’s population growth,” he said.
“Aucklanders have told us they want their services maintained and infrastructure renewed and expanded to meet their needs.”
Hibiscus & Bays Local Board chair Gary Brown is urging residents to give feedback on proposals that will shape the Hibiscus Coast – including progressing coastal protection, the Ōrewa seawall and plans to deliver the next stage of the Ōrewa Beach Esplanade Enhancement Project at the southern reserve and beach end.
“It’s time for Council to sort out regional funding for arts and community centres such as Estuary Arts and the HBC Youth Centre so that funding is equal to the rest of Auckland,” he says. “It’s really important to set aside the time and give feedback on this budget. It shapes our community and the Auckland region’s future, maintains services that our communities rely on and guides the level of rates they pay.”
Public feedback opened online on February 22 and closes at 12 noon on March 22.