First and foremost, I would like to say a huge thank you to the tireless emergency service workers and volunteers who were out doing their very best to ensure safety of person and property on the coast during recent floods. As a community we are grateful both to those on the frontline and those serving behind the scenes.
For those of you following our Hibiscus & Bays Local Board meetings, and those who take a passing interest in local politics, you will have seen news of how council is trying to deal with a budget gap approaching $300 million dollars. As part of the response to this challenge, local boards across Auckland have been asked to make significant cuts from our locally driven initiatives budgets which is going to force us to make hard decisions which will be felt throughout the coast. Further, it is yet to be seen the effects of the recent flooding will have on our bottom line.
Across Auckland, comment is being made on suggested cuts, be it the proposal to close the council operated Kauri Kids early childhood centres or the closure of the Auckland Citizens Advice Bureaux in pursuit of plugging the aforementioned budgetary gap.
Personally, my position prior to serving on your local board was that Auckland Council should stick to its knitting, inclusive of the provision of local infrastructure, waste management, building control through the likes of zoning and consent, and enforcement of local regulations. Allocation of your ratepayers’ funds is sacrosanct. Just as we, as ratepayers, have to prioritise and balance our budgets so should the council that serves us.
Having spent some time on the local board now, I am starting to see the likely effects our decisions will have on valued local groups and organisations that depend on your funding to continue their hard work within the community. This work involves much time donated by volunteers that only want the best for the Coast, its residents, and its environment – volunteer time that when calculated as a whole is invaluable to the Coast and our way of life.
Going one step further regarding sticking to our knitting, is the provision of a library service seven days a week within our knitting as a local board? To say this is locally controversial would be an understatement.
This is all going out for consultation with you as our community and the local board will have time set aside to hear your views in public. I strongly encourage you as community members to engage in this process. The Hibiscus & Bays Local Board exists to serve you, and your voice needs to be heard prior to us making these hard decisions. Your important feedback will determine how we proceed on your behalf.