Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has announced his Governing Body committee structure for Auckland Council to save money, keep rates low, protect the essential services Aucklanders value and improve the region’s natural and built environment.
“As I said when I was elected, my goal was for every Councillor to have meaningful roles, with genuine decision-making powers, in areas that would interest and challenge them,” Mayor Brown said this morning.
“The committee structure is the result of dozens of hours of one-on-one meetings and discussions, with Councillors indicating how they best wished to serve the people of Auckland.
“I am indebted to Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson, Transport & Infrastructure chairperson John Watson and Planning, Environment & Parks chairperson Richard Hills for the extraordinary effort they put into bringing it all together.
“My objective that everyone has a meaningful role has already been achieved for nineteen of the twenty councillors. Discussions are still underway to find a meaningful role for one councillor who did not accept my initial suggestion.”
Deputy Mayor Simpson said the new committee structure was a big step forward.
“The Mayor’s commitment to Auckland during the campaign was a more efficient committee structure able to make quick decisions and those objectives have been met,” she said.
The Deputy Mayor also welcomed the formation of a new Expenditure Control & Procurement Committee, which would pick up her work as the chair of the previous Value for Money Committee.
“The low-hanging fruit has already been picked, and now it is time for a new set of eyes and a united Governing Body to conduct a new line-by-line analysis of expenditure across every part of the Auckland Council group to keep rates as low as possible and protect essential services,” she said.
The Expenditure Control & Procurement Committee has been given until 31 March 2023 to identify savings for inclusion in the 2023/24 budget to help bridge the current $270 million budget hole. Mayor Brown said some had called the committee a “razor gang” but said he had picked its members carefully to ensure it would also protect essential services.
At the peak of the committee structure, the Governing Body will retain responsibility for the annual plan, budget, long-term plan and monitoring the financial performance of the Auckland Council group, including Council-Controlled Organisations (CCOs) and the port. It will be led by Mayor Brown and Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson. A mechanism will be developed in consultation with the Independent Māori Statutory Board (IMSB) on how it will participate in the annual plan, budget and long-term plan processes.
There will be two committees of the whole, the Transport & Infrastructure committee, led by Cr Watson and Cr Christine Fletcher, and the Planning, Environment & Parks committee led by Cr Hills and Cr Angela Dalton.
The Transport & Infrastructure committee will oversee a change of approach at Auckland Transport and address the current public-transport crisis, while the Planning, Environment & Parks committee will be responsible for plans and strategies that guide the physical development and growth of Auckland, its environment and parks.
Cr Watson said he looked forward to his new leadership position on the issue that most concerns Aucklanders and getting cracking to solve the public-transport crisis.
“Mayor Brown has made a very genuine attempt to include everyone and avoid the divisions of previous governing bodies – and the new structure is a noticeable improvement over what we had before,” Cr Watson said.
Cr Hills said he was honoured to take up such an important leadership role for the region over the next three years.
“I thank Mayor Brown for his confidence in me and his support for protecting our environment, investing in our parks and community facilities, and ensuring we plan well for future generations, including as we confront climate change,” Cr Hills said. “The Mayor has listened to a broad range of views from Councillors and worked to create a structure to bring out the best in all of us.”
In addition to the Expenditure Control & Procurement Committee, to be led by Cr Maurice Williamson and Cr Greg Sayers, focussed decision-making committees include the CCO Direction & Oversight Committee, led by Cr Wayne Walker and Cr Shane Henderson, and the Regulatory & Safety committee, led by Cr Josephine Bartley and Cr Ken Turner.
A Performance & Appointments committee, led by Cr Daniel Newman and Cr Chris Darby, will oversee the chief executive’s performance, review current CCO and port directors, and make appointments to fill vacancies, the number of which is expected to increase from the current two.
Cr Sharon Stewart and Cr Kerrin Leoni would lead the Civil Defence & Emergency Management committee and Cr Lotu Fuli would be the senior councillor on the Audit & Risk committee, which is required to have an independent chairperson.
The Mayor has also assigned Lead Councillor CCO roles to three Councillors, who will assist the Governing Body exercise effective direction and oversight of the substantive CCOs and Ports of Auckland Limited. Cr Darby will tackle Eke Panuku and the port, Cr Henderson has been given Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and Cr Turner Watercare.
“These are important and meaningful roles and I want to see these Councillors lead discussions about how we turn around the CCOs,” Mayor Brown said.
Mayor Brown said a role for Cr Alf Filipaina is expected to be announced next week.
The Governing Body is scheduled to note the new committee structure at its meeting on Thursday next week. The new committee structure can be found here and detailed terms of reference will be available on Monday.