Politics has been termed the “art of compromise,” where those elected make decisions that most residents and ratepayers can accept. In Auckland, this requires give and take by councillors in order to achieve a majority vote, and the reality is not everyone gets everything they want.
Decisions include not only the future direction for Auckland, but also the distribution of the funding required to implement that future. Always there remains a responsibility to keep the flame to the feet of Auckland Council to be financially responsible and to scrutinise if what is being planned is what residents and ratepayers actually desire.
Throughout the year there are many unanimous voting decisions made between the Mayor, myself and all the other councillors. Naturally, gaining consensus on everything is not always achievable. For example, last month the governing body voted 16-7 in favour of the Mayor’s budget, with some of us councillors criticising the appropriateness of a six per cent rates rise on top on the escalating cost-of-living pressures.
There is also more than one way to catch a rabbit. By working collaboratively with the heads of departments, much has be achieved for the Rodney ward. The political arena may set the budget envelopes, but the implementation of those budgets are overseen by the staff. In fact, the wins being achieved for Rodney are more than for the many other parts of Auckland. In a nutshell, Rodney’s ratepayers pay just over $100 million per year in rates and we are receiving back more than that per year.
This reflects the result of teamwork between our Local Board, community groups, elected members and Council staff.
Rodney is punching well above its weight in regards to funding, with more funding flowing into infrastructure than Rodney contributes in annual rates. Although people tell me they think Auckland Council could do better, compared with many other Auckland suburbs, we are trending in a positive upward direction. My ongoing concern, however, remains that the rural ratepayers of Rodney are still not receiving a fair return on their rates, particularly from Auckland Transport.
Having strong professional relationships with senior Council staff has also proven to be important in solving local issues such as saving the Baxter Street carpark, protecting the Warkworth weir, getting Rodney excluded from the accommodation targeted rates, and mobilising water tanker deliveries during droughts. Equally, when people come to my monthly “Chat With Your Councillor” sessions, the ability to positively engage with the appropriate decision-makers within Council significantly assists with resolving their issues.
I have met with all the Mayoralty candidates and each has been given an information pack about the Rodney ward including maps, a breakdown of the different issues each community is facing, the important financial information, along with taking each on a tour of our unsealed roads. Now it will be interesting to see what each candidate promises for Rodney during their electioneering campaigns.