Mayor's request for boards to tighten belts comes under fire
Auckland Council giveth - then it taketh away. That's the word according to South Auckland local boards.
Important services will suffer because mayor Len Brown has asked the boards to reduce spending by at least 3 per cent in their 2013 to 2014 budgets, they say.
The move comes just months after boards had agonised over their 10-year budgets with fiscal envelopes like "pocket money", Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board chair John McCracken says.
But with rates increases capped at 4.9 per cent for next year, Mr Brown says he wants belts tightened.
"Inflation is running well below that and I wish to drive down any rates increase to well below 4 per cent so I am looking for cost reductions and improved revenue levels," the mayor said in a memo to local boards.
He expects not just the local boards but the whole council and its controlled organisations to look at ways to reduce spending.
"That does not mean there will be a blanket 3 per cent cut across the board. The intention is that elected representatives have options to consider."
But local boards Auckland-wide are struggling to provide services to ratepayers with their measly piece of the rates pie, Mr McCracken says.
"That's because Mr Brown and the other organisations in council control over 76 per cent of the expenditure."
For this reason Mr McCracken says he believes the 3 per cent savings should come from the council.
Manurewa board chairwoman Angela Dalton agrees. She says her community is already second from bottom in terms of funding.
With most ratepayers money now going straight into Auckland Central projects she believes the cuts should come from the mayor's priority list. Manurewa has already had to push projects out four or five years because of the council raiding its budget, she says.
Mangere-Otahuhu chairman Peter Skelton says the local boards are already down to their bones.
Making cuts for his board will mean shelving the renewal of the Mangere pools for a while, he says.
"We estimated the cost of this will mean we are looking for nearly a million dollars."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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