Expenditure Control Committee to start work on $270 million budget hole

Publish Date : 17 Nov 2022

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown says Auckland Council, Auckland Transport (AT) and Tātaki Auckland Unlimited (TAU) have responded positively to the Auckland Council Governing Body’s demand for savings to help bridge its $270 million budget hole that risks rates rises of 12 per cent in 2023/24.

The Mayor said the three agencies, in a workshop yesterday, had come up with reasonable first efforts at identifying potential savings, efficiencies and revenue enhancements.

He said Eke Panuku Development Auckland had failed to suggest any meaningful savings and risked having cuts imposed upon it.

Auckland Council has also yet to hear from Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) about what savings, efficiencies and revenue enhancements it has planned in order to deliver ratepayers a significant cash dividend in 2023/24, which Mayor Brown believes should be at least $30 million.

Mayor Brown was commenting after the Governing Body adopted his proposed committee structure, announced last week, and each committee’s terms of reference, allowing new Councillors to begin their work in earnest next week.

The new Expenditure Control and Procurement Committee is required by its Terms of Reference to “undertak[e] an immediate project to conduct a line-by-line analysis of expenditure across the Auckland Council group, including the port company, by 31 March 2023”. The committee, led by Councillors Maurice Williamson and Greg Sayers, is required by that date to recommend a savings package for 2023/24 and subsequent years, in conjunction with management.

“No expenditure information, no matter how detailed and granular, should be withheld from the committee by any member of the Auckland Council group, including the port company,” Mayor Brown said.

Other members of the Expenditure Control and Procurement Committee are Councillors Angela Dalton, Julie Fairey, Alf Filipaina, Shane Henderson, Mike Lee and Daniel Newman, and two members of the Independent Māori Statutory Board (IMSB).

“As Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson puts it, the previous Value for Money committee and the 2020 emergency budget following Covid picked all the low-hanging fruit,” Cr Williamson said. “Now the Mayor and Governing Body have demanded an even more focussed, deliberate and urgent project to look at both the structural drivers of waste and efficiency and every item of spending across the group, to keep rates as low as possible and protect essential services.”

Cr Williamson said it was not a time for “tinkering around the edges or band-aid solutions”.

“As the Mayor has said, our problems are not going to be solved by charging families a few more dollars to visit the zoo – and our first priorities are head-office empire building, inefficient contracting, and wasteful and failing projects across the group, not trying to squeeze Aucklanders more during a cost-of-living crisis,” Cr Williamson said.

“This is not a ‘razor gang’ because a trim here and there is no longer enough.”

Mayor Brown also announced Cr Filipaina will be the Governing Body’s Public Safety Lead, responsible for co-ordinating and collaborating with Police, other agencies and communities to address and mitigate the impact of crime.

“There are serious community concerns about rising crime throughout our region and Cr Filipaina has an important job in working with central government agencies, business owners and everyone in the Auckland community to work more closely together and ensure Auckland Council and its agencies are doing everything we can to support them,” the Mayor said.

“Today’s announcement of Cr Filipaina’s appointment means we have met my objective for every Councillor to have a meaningful role in an area that interests and challenges them.”

Cr Filipaina said he would put 100 per cent into the new role and would begin work today.

“Working with the community is why I entered local government 19 years ago and is at the heart of my work. I am looking forward to working with Mayor Brown and acknowledge the faith he has placed in me to bring central and local government agencies and communities closer together to make our region safer for everyone.”

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