How Council should spend our rates money was a burning question at the two public engagements I recently attended.
The council was seeking direction on what the rates increase this year should be. Of course few of us like paying more rates but when faced with the three suggested increases that council are looking at – 2 percent, 2.5 percent or 3.5 percent – I was surprised at the way residents responded: more about that later.
When told that the 2 percent increase would mean cuts to existing services people were asked which services should be cut and which should be retained or increased. The residents’ priorities were very clear – people value their locally delivered services; their parks, libraries, environmental programmes and local events and want more investment in transport while major events, economic development and governance and administration are of low or no importance to them.
I hope the council listens to that message when it sets the rates in June, and gives priority to the activities that ratepayers want.
Last year Council reduced the budget but did not specify in what areas cuts should occur. Instead, staff were asked to identify where savings and efficiencies could be made. The areas they targeted were libraries, parks, school environmental programmes and local service levels. These are the very areas that people value and are therefore extremely upset to see changed or reduced.
Back to the preferred rate increase: most of the people at the engagements I attended supported a 2.5 percent rate increase but wanted priority to be given to the areas where they felt their money should be spent.
How do you think council should spend your money? Although the formal submission period has closed I am sure our councillors, John Watson and Wayne Walker, would appreciate your feedback.
Recognising the huge pressure on parking during the construction phase at the Silverdale Park and Ride station the local board approached Auckland Transport and granted it temporary use, during the build, of the 100 carparks next to the closed former Silverdale Bowling Club site.
Also we are keen to see weekend ferry sailings and are working alongside Top Harbour to promote a ferry survey to gauge demand. We have a meeting planned with Auckland Transport to discuss how this can be achieved.
Finally we are co-hosting another breakfast briefing with Michael Barnett and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.
Michael will be giving us an update on where Penlink as a project is going and report back on the Chamber’s discussions with central Government, the Mayor and private investors. Since we joined with the Chamber to promote Penlink we have noticed some real traction on this key project for our area. The breakfast is on April 28 at 7.30am at the Silverdale Rugby Club. Attendance is free but as there is a light breakfast you will need to register beforehand at www.penlink.co.nz. We look forward to seeing you there.