Many projects designed to improve the appearance, safety and accessibility of local streets will be deferred, as the budget is cut to the bone.
Each term the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board is given money for new footpaths, signs, street lighting and similar projects from Auckland Transport’s Local Board Transport Capital Fund.
This term (2019-23), pre-Covid, a total of $5.06 million had been allocated for these projects – this included $1.3 million held over from the previous term.
Budget cuts across Auckland Council and its CCOs related to Covid-19 make it likely that the $1.3 million that the previous local board saved will disappear, and, in addition, the fund for this term has been savagely cut.
At a recent workshop, members were told that this year just over $305,000 is available and it is expected that just over $1.5 million will be available for the whole term. That is a reduction of 71 percent.
In addition, AT’s Local Board Community Safety fund has gone. This is used for safety work such as pedestrian crossings. One effect of this cut is that the construction of a much-needed pedestrian and bike crossing of Hibiscus Coast Highway, near Estuary Arts Centre, is no longer funded.
Local board member Janet Fitzgerald says she is stunned at the size of the cuts.
“Transport related projects are what local board members are asked about the most,” Mrs Fitzgerald says. “We will be playing catch up for a long time to come.”
Local board members must now decide what projects can be completed with the money they do have, while trying to allocate spending fairly between the two areas that the local board covers – Hibiscus Coast and Bays.
Among the possibilities being considered are the construction of a shared path on Orewa Reserve, which was part of the Orewa Boulevard extension ($180,105) and ‘slow town’ signs for Silverdale and Mairangi Bay ($87,000 for four signs in total).
At an August 27 workshop, the cost of these projects was queried with the Auckland Transport representative with some members saying $87,000 seemed a lot for four signs in such budget-conscious times.
What projects can still go ahead within the much-reduced funding envelope will be decided at an upcoming local board business meeting. The next meeting takes place this week, September 17. Talk with a Hibiscus & Bays local board member if you want to see a particular project prioritised.