Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Auckland Mayor warns of looming fiscal storm

Newly-elected Auckland Mayor, Wayne Brown, has outlined his approach to leadership at today’s Auckland Council symposium for elected members.

The Mayor (pictured) repeated his warning that “Aucklanders are sailing into an economic and fiscal storm with wages yet to catch up with endemic inflation”.

With nearly 50% of mortgage holders across the country soon to come off fixed mortgages and move to interest rates starting with a two to ones starting with a seven, Mr Brown said “Aucklanders don’t need council rates increases to add to the agony”.

“We must do whatever we can to avoid or at least minimise those rates increases, to reduce the pressure on young and lower-income homeowners, who can least afford it,” he said.

Mr Brown also emphasised his commitment to “real decisions” being made by Council committees and by the Local Boards that are closest to the communities affected by them.

“I do not want everyone just making recommendations upwards, downwards and sideways – generating thousands of pages of unread reports,” he said.

“I want every council committee to have clear decision-making powers, with decisions passed upwards only when required by law or in exceptional circumstances, when big strategic calls or financial decisions demand it.

“Be warned, of course, the committee members, including those from the Independent Māori Statutory Board, will then carry the associated political and legal accountability.”

Mr Brown said some progress has been made by the previous Council to empower Local Boards but argued, “we need to go further and faster”.

Ideally, he said, he would like Local Boards, through the coming budget process:

  • to be given clear capped budgets for their communities;
  • have the sole power to decide how to spend it; and
  • have the sole political and legal accountability over the funds and decisions.

For Council-Control Organisations and other agencies, Mayor Brown said his Letters of Expectation, planned for December “will be much more specific than has been the practice over the last six years”.

He said a team in his office would work on them and he wanted all councillors and Local Board members to be involved, “feeding in your ideas, and making sure the Letters of Expectation have real grunt”.

“When the CCOs come back with their draft Statements of Corporate Intent for the governing body to review, amend and approve, they had better include real, meaningful, measurable outcomes, rather than platitudes,” Mr Brown said.

“Aucklanders aren’t interested in bland statements about improving the bus service,” he said.

“They demand clear measurable targets about the minimum acceptable percentage of buses arriving on time, and the minimum acceptable average patronage. Let’s work on that type of thing together.”

Latest Articles