Auckland Council last week agreed it’s Emergency Budget 2020/2021.
The financial impact of COVID-19, and added financial pressure of ensuring Aucklanders continue to have access to water due to severe drought, created a budget gap forecast to be three quarters of a billion dollars.
Finance and Performance Chair, Desley Simpson said:
“Without doubt this has been the hardest budget we have ever faced. These have been very, very difficult decisions to make. We know that going ahead with our originally planned 3.5 per cent general rates rise was not what a lot of people wanted, and to be honest, in our hearts, it is not what we wanted.
"But along with my fellow councillors, we have spent the last few months going through the numbers line by line, and in order to get Auckland, it’s people and it’s economy back on their feet, we realised we were left with little choice.
“We were not prepared to put this in the ‘too hard basket’ and we were not prepared to face a situation where Aucklanders may not have access to clean water.”
Commenting on what this means to their local area, Howick ward Councillor Stewart said:
“This has been a very difficult few months for everyone and COVID-19 has changed the world we live in. For me, this makes the completion of the Eastern busway even more important.
The new Pakuranga Bus Station will be a gateway to work for many people, making jobs in the city more accessible and the and Reeves Road Flyover will help to make journey times quicker and public transport options more effective.
At a time when the council has had to look for across the board savings, I am pleased the real value of the Eastern busway and what it means for people in this area, has been acknowledged and work on the Panmure to Pakuranga stage will continue as planned.”
Councillor Stewart continued:
“Through working together, I believe we’ve struck a balance between financial prudence, maintaining the core services Howick deserve, helping those in financial need and investing in our region’s future.
"There were some very difficult decisions but I believe that we are now in a position to recover from both a pandemic and a drought.”