Auckland council seeks $2.8b cuts

Last updated 14:26 08/07/2014

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No decisions have been made on what projects and services will be cut to help Auckland Council find the billions of dollars of savings it needs.

The council had to save $2.8 billion over the next ten years to keep rates increases between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent.

"Everything is up for grabs," said Finance and Performance Committee chairwoman Penny Webster.

"We have to look at everything. In the context of the Auckland Plan we have to say 'what can we do differently, what can we do better, and what can we not do anymore'".

Certain projects would be prioritised, however.

"We have been given the message very clearly from Aucklanders that there are certain things they want done, particularly in the transport area," said Webster.

The council met yesterday for the first discussion of the city's long-term plan (LTP), a ten-year budget for Auckland's development, since the amalgamation of the super city.

The meeting ran scenarios where transport projects and service delivery programmes could be cut.

Where projects did lose funding the council hoped to find alternative ways to complete them, though.

"If you take for example the Penlink road, in Whangaparaoa. Ninety five per cent of people surveyed have said they would pay a toll for that road to be built," said Webster.

Despite facing a massive budget deficit, the Auckland Council was in strong financial shape, Webster claimed.

"People forget the Coucil has a AA creditt rating - we are rated better than the banks."

In the coming months Auckland residents would be asked which investments they thought were the most important and affordable to grow the super city over the next decade.

There would be 11 months of consultation before the council made decisions.

Prime Minister John Key said that while Auckland's budget issues were for the council to deal with, it showed how difficult it was for councils to live within their means and get back into surplus.

He said it raised a question around the start date for the new central business district rail loop tunnel.

"This shows why we have been cautious about the start date for the CBD rail tunnel," he told reporters.

"It is definitely affordable and do-able, but where it doesn't put pressure on ratepayers."

He said the Government still favoured a 2020 start date but have not ruled out getting work underway "slightly earlier".

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