We pay $70 million a year in rates and about another $87 million is collected via fees and user charges. The transport tax gathers a further $3 million a year. So that’s about $160 million a year we pay to Auckland Council.
Using what information Council is prepared to give the public, we know about $20 million is spent back via the Local Board budget, and $40 million via regional services and Auckland Transport’s road maintenance ($25 million). If we add in a further $4 million a year to account for paying off the debt and depreciation for $40 million of capital investments (land purchases, stormwater, seawalls, etc) that adds up to $60 million in rates returning to the district.
So where is the outstanding $100 million, or 60 per cent of our rates, a year that’s unaccounted for?
Watercare projects can be excluded because it has its own Treasury and self-funds itself via a separate water rate charge. It’s now almost six years of waiting for Council to open the books. However, Council refuses their public duty to do so.
Firstly, we must fight to have the books opened. Secondly, Rodney knows we’re being siphoned to fund the City Rail Link and hence the secrecy. Cost savings must instead be found within Council to help fund the debt of CBD projects. I suggest they start with reducing the $720 million wage bill. Regrettably, financial mismanagement is now rife within Council.
The $1.2 billion blowout of the IT system, against a budget of $157 million, is astonishing. The Finance and Performance Committee meeting minutes show just how badly our leaders failed us. In 2015, the same information on the IT system was regurgitated four times when updating those Councillors. There were warning bells ringing at them from every quarter. They ignored it. Those Councillors must be held to account at these elections. It hurts Rodney – badly. That lost $1.2 billion would have easily sealed the roads, fixed Hill Street, fixed Wellsford’s strangling sewage problems, built two more levels of carparking and delivered a bus service.
Next thing – Council should stop being involved in social and economic issues for which central government is responsible. In other words, Council needs to get back to its core business. Our unsealed roads, foothpaths, traffic congestion, river ways, lack of bus services, and lack of pedestrian linkages must get done first.
Finally, announce new policy that allows local contractors, community volunteers and community groups to deliver those projects. This is guaranteed to lower the costs while also delivering them faster.