Mayor quiet on rates rise
Auckland Mayor Len Brown will not rule out an increase on the promised limit of 2.5 per cent average rates rise when he takes his draft 10-year budget to the council tomorrow.
The mayor is having to cut costs around the Auckland Council to ensure the nearly $3 billion in savings are not increasingly covered by rate payers.
Tomorrow he will present the draft budget to the council.
“I think that a council, even one with a significant growing population and major requirement for big investment like transportation, could and should still be able to maintain that type of investment and maintain low rate increases. That is a personal as well as a political commitment I have made,” he said.
But the mayor said Aucklanders will have to wait until tomorrow to find out whether he would keep his promise of an average rates rise of 2.5 per cent across the Super City.
However, cuts to community services and the mayor’s big project, the City Rail Link (CRL), are off limits.
“The one thing I will tell you is we won’t be shutting any pools, libraries or recreation centres,” he said.
“The CRL is our number one project it is critical we maintain our focus and delivery there. We now have to keep total discipline and focus around that. That is the number one game changing project for Auckland,” said Brown.
Savings will instead be made around the deferral of capital projects and increased efficiency around the organisation.
“We can find savings in just the normal better management of the operation rather than taking books off shelves,” he said.
The mayor is looking for savings around policy and strategy development, back office support, and corporate support around IT.
“Those are the areas where you can get the best savings and the most amount of efficiency in the organisation,” said Brown.
He plans to manage debt a lot more tightly and keep repayments to no more than 12 per cent of annual revenue to maintain the council’s AA credit rating.
“This is a budget that is looking to continue the process of investing $5bn of rate payer money every year in Auckland’s progress. In the same way doing that in the most balanced way as possible,” said Brown.