Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers has blasted Auckland Council’s proposed 10-year budget, saying it has axed funding to upgrade the Hill Street intersection and slashed funding for unsealed roads.
The proposed budget was released for public consultation on February 22 and covers the years from 2021 to 2031. The Council’s 10-year budget is refreshed every three years.
Council is calling the 2021-2031 budget the Recovery Budget since it aims to focus on savings to manage the loss of Council income due to Covid-19.
It estimates cumulative losses due to Covid will reach $1 billion by 2024.
But apparent cutbacks in funding for the troubled Hill Street intersection and road sealing have angered Cr Sayers.
“The Mayor promised to fix Hill Street during his electioneering. It’s a broken promise to the people of our area,” he says.
“I have called for an emergency meeting with Auckland Transport Board of Directors to see how this action can be challenged and reversed.”
Cr Sayers is also upset that the unsealed road improvement programme has apparently been slashed from $121 million to $40 million – a critical issue for Rodney, which suffers from more than 600km of unsealed roads.
“I believe this is because the Mayor is prioritising projects in the CBD and south Auckland to the detriment of Rodney,” he says.
In response, Mayor Phil Goff has roundly rejected Cr Sayers claims.
Mr Goff says the 10-year budget is a high-level budget document that does not allocate funding for individual transport projects such as road sealing and Hill Street. Instead, these are identified in the Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP).
The RLTP (2021-2031) is yet to be finalised, but is due to be released for public consultation later this month.
Mr Goff further denies that he is neglecting Rodney, saying the region is benefitting significantly from both Government and Council-funded investment – notably the $878 million Puhoi to Warkworth motorway project and the $62 million Matakana link road.
In defence of his claims, Cr Sayers notes that unsealed road improvements are, in fact, mentioned in the 10-year budget, which is where he secured the $40 million figure (page 419 in the 10-year budget supporting information document). This is down from the $121 million identified in the current RLTP. In light of the reference to unsealed roads, Cr Sayers says he found it disturbing there was no mention of Hill Street at all.
“It appears that any funding for Hill Street has been deferred in the Mayor’s proposal for at least a decade,” he says.
Cr Sayers says people have until March 22 to make a submission on the Recovery Budget and this is something they need to be made aware of. If they are concerned, they should make a submission.
Mr Goff also encourages Aucklanders to have their say on the Recovery Budget.
Key topics for consultation include a one-off five per cent average general rate increase, a short-term increase in Council borrowing, selling of surplus Council property, and extension of the water quality targeted rate until June 2031.
The consultation document, supporting information and feedback forms are available at akhaveyoursay.nz/recoverybudget. They are also available at Council service centres, libraries and local board offices, or by phoning 09 301 0101. See Viewpoint Column