Auckland Council proposes to sell $224 million worth of its property – $200 million more than in its original budget projections.
This scheme, which it calls “asset recycling” is proposed in Council’s Emergency Budget, which is out for public consultation now. It includes selling 23 properties on Whangaparaoa and Brightside Roads, which are held by Auckland Transport (AT). Sixteen of the sites are vacant land and the remainder are residential.
The properties form a line from just past D’Oyly Drive, around the corner into Brightside Rd. Together, they are considered a key part of the road network, allowing for future safety, retaining and other works to make this part of the main road safe for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
When the properties were originally put up for sale last year (HM May 8, 2019), Councillors Wayne Walker and John Watson objected, as did the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board. AT representatives met Cr Walker on site at the time, so are aware of issues that include an old and unstable retaining wall, access, and the “hazardous” Brightside Rd intersection with Whangaparaoa Rd.
Cr Walker says it is critical that Council retain enough of the land to be able to renew the retaining wall without blocking this crucial part of the road.
“It is disturbing that Council has no plan which would indicate what land should be kept in Council ownership, and what can be sold. You can’t just flog it all off,” Cr Walker says.
The Emergency Budget is a response to the impact of the Covid-19 measures on Council’s finances. It estimates a huge drop in revenue in the coming financial year, with operating cash income across the council group projected to be around $525 million less than previously budgeted.
This results from reduced dividends, a sharp fall in revenue from venues, pools, and facilities, public transport fares and parking; and reduced income from development contributions and council regulatory fees.
Rates postponement to ease pressure on those suffering genuine hardship because of Covid-19 will also defer receipt of up to $65 million in rates revenue.
However, Cr Watson says this is no excuse for a “fire sale” of publicly owned assets.
“This council has been disposing of assets since amalgamation in 2010 – any ‘easy’ disposals have long since gone and the scale of what’s being proposed now is significant,” Cr Watson says. “I am also concerned about a clause that alludes to a new, fast-tracked system for sale that could potentially have an impact on the all-important input from local boards as community representatives.”
Both Councillors are encouraging Hibiscus Coast residents to make submissions to the Emergency Budget. It has not yet been finalised, and if the public speaks to an issue in numbers, that will make a difference, they say.
Consultation on the Emergency Budget is on now, until Friday, June 19 and is online only.