The year 2013 will be another big one for us all.
The Auditor-General's report into the first two years of the Auckland Council notes the ‘can-do' attitude and commitment staff, the local boards, councillors and council-controlled organisations have to making a unified region work.
This is consistent with the growing sense of pride and possibility I see in my travels across Auckland every day.
We all know we have a big job ahead.
Last year we welcomed our 1.5 millionth Aucklander, and in the next 30, we will welcome another million.
One million more to house, transport, employ and entertain.
We will be ready.
The Auckland Plan is in place to guide our physical, social and economic development, and in March, we will be seeking your opinions on the Unitary Plan, a single regionwide rulebook that sets out where and what we can develop and how we protect our environment and heritage.
Next month, new ferry services will connect Beach Haven and Hobsonville Point with the central city, another milestone in Auckland's integrated transport plan.
At the centre of that plan is the Central Rail Link (CRL), which with our new electric trains, will mean more services and frequent services across the network. It will also future proof our transport network for an additional Waitemata Harbour crossing, rail to the North Shore and to the airport.
This year we will continue work designating and protecting the Central Rail Link route and discuss alternative funding mechanisms for much needed transport infrastructure for the super-city.
We continue to work hard to balance financial prudence with investment in local communities, transport improvements and boosting our local economy. We're proposing an average rates increase of no more than 2.9 per cent this year, down from a forecast 4.8 per cent. We have reconfirmed our strong international credit ratings and top 10 most liveable city rankings.
I wish you a Happy New Year and enjoyable summer. Our events programme is in full-swing across Auckland, with hundreds of options whether you are into music, sports, films, art, culture or just hanging out in our lovely harbour setting.
I'll be out in Auckland communities, attending your events, and listening to local issues at my Mayor in the Chair lunchtime and evening events again this year. Drop by and let me know how you think Auckland is doing - we have a lot of work to do, but we are taking great strides to making it the best it can be.
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