Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Auckland Mayor’s proposal outlines vision for city

Auckland Council Mayor, Wayne Brown’s full raft of recommendations to “strengthen the financial and physical resilience of the Auckland region” will go to public consultation in late-February.

The Budget Committee met on Friday to determine the scope of public consultation on Auckland Council’s 10-year Budget (Long-term Plan) 2024-34.

“By putting the broadest range of options on the table, we provide an opportunity for all Aucklanders to tell us what they want,” says Mayor Brown.

The mayoral proposal outlines the Mayor’s vision and priorities for the Auckland region, and it is the first step in developing the Long-term Plan.

From February 28 to March 28, Aucklanders can have their say on the key proposals adopted by the Budget Committee, including:

•   Creating an Auckland Future Fund – a council-owned regional wealth fund capitalised with the council’s remaining Auckland International Airport (AIA) shares and proceeds from any port lease agreement;
•   Achieving a better return on investment from the Port of Auckland – through a 35-year lease of the port operations for an up-front payment of $2-3 billion (or) maintaining council ownership of the port operations;
•   Releasing waterfront land from the Port of Auckland for public use;
•   Making public transport faster, more reliable, and easier to use – with a weekly $50 cap on buses, trains, and inner harbour ferries;
•   Refreshed fiscal and budget responsibility rules, including a range of cost savings;
•   Keeping rates affordable – with a new target to keep rates rises within 1.5% of inflation from year-four.

The Mayor said no decisions have been made yet.

“Today’s meeting was about the big picture, not the detail. The public consultation document hasn’t been prepared yet. Between now and late-January, detailed work will be carried out by staff across the council group.”

He said Council staff will advise where proposed cost savings could be found, as well as the potential impacts on public services and communities. The Budget Committee will also obtain contestable advice around the proposed Auckland Future Fund and port ownership options.

“When we do go to public consultation, it will be very clear to Aucklanders what the key issues and options are, with supporting material through a consultation document that has been approved by the council’s auditors,” said Mayor Brown.

“For existing programmes and projects already underway, which are not covered in the mayoral proposal, you can assume that work will continue – but I expect things to get done better, faster, and cheaper.”

Mayor Brown said the proposal is firmly focused on change.

“Throughout this process, I have asked myself whether we’re doing what’s needed to ensure that the council has the ability to meet the needs of Aucklanders, now and in the future,” he said.

“What I have proposed is not a perfect solution, but it is a balanced and credible solution, and one worthy of Aucklanders having a say on.

“We must adapt and change our ways. What’s needed is a culture change across the entire organisation. It’s time to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves whether our policies, processes, and behaviour are fit for purpose and whether they meet the essential needs of all Aucklanders, now and into the future.”

The Long-term Plan has a lot of moving parts that, when it goes to public consultation, will include:

•   A consultation document summarising the key issues and options for public feedback;
•   Key highlights and investment priorities for the LTP;
•   Detailed financial projections;
•   Auckland’s 30-year infrastructure strategy;
•   A revised financial strategy;
•   An overview of the council’s activities and services, key policy information, and information on the council-controlled organisations (CCOs);
•   An overview of Local Board agreements and other local information.

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