Mahurangi residents are being urged to have their say on Auckland Council’s Emergency Budget before the deadline for submissions passes at midnight on Friday, June 19.
Council is asking for comment on two scenarios of spending cuts, one if a 3.5 per cent rates increase was approved and the other for a 2.5 per cent increase.
Four councillors, including Rodney representative Greg Sayers, wanted a zero per cent increase option, but Mayor Phil Goff says this would be unacceptable.
“We looked at it, but could not responsibly propose rate increases below 2.5 per cent because of the severe impacts that would have on Council services, new infrastructure, our debt levels and employment and business activity in Auckland,” he said.
He said the scale of the financial challenge that Council faced, with a predicted revenue loss of over half a billion dollars due to Covid-19, meant that spending would need to be cut and capital projects delayed, even with the 3.5 per cent increase previously planned.
“With a lower rate increase of 2.5 per cent, we would need to further reduce spending on Council services and further delay investment in transport, parks and community and town centre projects,” he said.
Both options could mean serious cuts for spending in Rodney, including up to 20 per cent off the Local Board’s discretionary budget and a proposal to reduce the road sealing budget by up to $1 million, which could jeopardise a new Auckland Transport, (AT) programme to improve local unsealed roads (MM Jun 3).
“The paper was adopted at our May business meeting and only needs to be approved by the board of AT,” Board deputy chair Beth Houlbrooke said. “The governing body members may not be aware of this yet, so I think we’ve got a good case to argue it be put back in place, but we will need the support of submissions and our councillor if we have any chance of achieving this.”
Other cuts potentially on the cards include road and footpath maintenance, parks and hall spending, pest eradication, Council services and opening hours, and the closure of two animal shelters.
The full Emergency Budget document can be read at akhaveyoursay.nz/emergency-budget or at any library or service centre. Feedback can be posted online at akhaveyoursay.nz/emergency-budget, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, dropped off at libraries or service centres, or posted to AK Have Your Say, Auckland Council, Freepost Authority 182382, Private Bag 92 300, Auckland 1142 by Friday, June 19.