Auckland’s 21 local boards have been busy reviewing the city’s finances, offering contrasting perspectives on the new council’s 2011-2012 Draft Annual Plan on which 1750 Aucklanders commented during the recent public submission phase.
The Devonport-Takapuna Local Board looked not only at the next financial year [1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012] and the proposed rates increase; its scrutiny went deeper and further.
Board Chair Chris Darby says while supporting the draft plan in principle, board members offered bouquets, brickbats and strategic suggestions.
“While some boards have criticised the proposed 4.9% transition rate increase, we acknowledge that – while not ideal – it’s still less than the 5.7% rate rise identified for the same period in [the former] North Shore City Council’s last budget.
“We are, however, concerned at the uncertainty involved in achieving a sub-five per cent target when that requires council to find savings of some $62 million. Ours is not the only community seeking clarity around which projects are cut and for how long.
“In the absence of specific information, we do not support funding cuts or delays unless they are due to genuine capacity constraints such as the unavailability of contractors to do the work.
“We want to see the town centres upgrades and public transport improvement programmes proceed as planned,” Mr Darby says. “Many submitters supported the walking and cycling initiatives.
“Skyrocketing fuel prices make catching the bus and ferry increasingly attractive and we must stay abreast of this growing trend,” he says.
Among its longer-term recommendations, the board is asking the council to look at how it might reduce rates funding from 54% of total revenue to 45% by 2022.
“Rates are a blunt funding tool which disadvantages many within our communities; a broader mix of revenue sources would achieve greater fairness.”
Among Devonport-Takapuna Local Board’s other comments were:
Support for the 3.8% inflation-adjusted increase in fees and charges
Propose that the use of public land for commercial filming be charged at market rates
Proposed new private coastal occupation charge to apply to privately-owned structures occupying the public seabed, e.g. jetties, marinas and boatsheds
Standardised rating instalment dates, penalties and early payment discounts
Retain the rates remission option in the event of extreme financial hardship.