Beware those with simplistic plans to save millions, Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore says.
The Franklin Ward Auckland Councillor says with consultation into the annual budget now open, it’s important people give their feedback.
“People know by now that the council is facing critical income loss in the wake of COVID-19. We are looking at around $1billion lost income from airport and port dividends alone.
“There are always loud voices for significant budget cuts, but decision-making is upon us and abandoning projects and slashing budgets will only put the city further back.”
He says the council has already made around $90million in savings and continues to search for ways to achieve more for less.
“None of that is easy. Attacking everything the council does is. But we have a substantial capital programme underway, and it needs to continue. Abandoning projects won’t help, it will put us back and leave us facing even higher costs in the future.”
Councillor Cashmore says many of the services council provides are essential.
“Drinking water, rubbish removal, public transport, sports fields, parks, libraries, wastewater, environmental services all have to be paid for, and the list goes on.
“Not many want those sorts of things cut, understandably, so I’d caution against putting too much faith in those who promise big cost savings, it is not as simple as they would suggest.”
He says the losses the pandemic has brought have not all been economic.
“We have seen some of our facilities and access to them impacted, we have seen concerts and cultural events lost, and that has been a social loss met by our communities.
“We have all felt the stresses the pandemic has brought, and we are all still fighting our way through that, but together we can emerge from COVID-19’s shadow in a good place. The most important thing is that we undertake that together for the positive future of our city.”
Consultation on the Annual Budget 2022/23 is open until 28 March.
The budget includes a Climate Action Package that will provide funding to respond to climate change. As part of that, residents will be asked whether they support a targeted rate over the next 10 years.
It also responds to uncertainty created by COVID-19 and seeks to build flexibility to manage its impacts, and addresses waste minimisation reform.
The budget proposes keeping the previously agreed average general rates increase at 3.5 per cent for 2022/2023.
Feedback can be provided online, by email, phone, post or at Have Your Say events.
Visit akhaveyoursay.co.nz for more or to have your say.