Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has proposed an additional $20 million a year for storm response activities, focusing on improved prevention and mitigation measures, to increase Auckland’s preparedness for severe weather events.
“The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle, on top of unprecedented rainfall and flooding in late-January, has strengthened my resolve to fix Auckland’s infrastructure and stop wasteful spending,” said Mayor Brown.
Today, 15 February, the proposed storm response funding will be tabled by Auckland Council’s Governing Body to vote on whether it should go to public consultation for the proposed Annual Budget 2023/24.
In recent weeks, thousands of Aucklanders have been significantly impacted by flooding, coastal inundation, landslips, high winds, and power outages.
“Having inspected stormwater drains myself, while visiting sites across Auckland with building inspectors, I fully support increased maintenance and will revisit the capital projects list to ensure that stormwater is a priority for the next financial year,” said Mayor Brown.
In the mayoral proposal, adopted in December, there were technical changes to the way that Auckland Council budgets for reactive stormwater works, but no cuts to operational funding. In fact, increased operational funding for stormwater had already been proposed.
Over the next month, council staff will advise how the proposed storm response funding could best be allocated, with the Governing Body to decide on the priorities. Auckland Council is facing an estimated operating budget gap of $295 million for the 2023/24 financial year.
“Severe weather events have not made it any easier to bridge the budget gap of $295 million. In fact, it highlights the need to think very seriously about selling underperforming assets, so we can make investments that matter,” said Mayor Brown.
Aucklanders will be consulted on significant reductions in council group spending to help balance the Annual Budget 2023/24, as well as other measures such as increasing general rates, the sale of shares in Auckland International Airport, and prudent use of debt to counter extraordinary economic conditions.
“It’s too early to say what the full financial impacts of these severe weather events might be. In the meantime, we need to proceed with the annual budget timetable and go to public consultation on February 28 as planned,” said Mayor Brown.
“In the long-term, we need to significantly increase our capital investment in stormwater to address years of under investment, which will be dealt with in the long-term plan.”