Council’s proposed budget is unfair to Waitakere Ranges
Auckland Council is currently consulting on the Mayor’s proposed budget.
One of the headlines is that the Mayor is asking local boards to find 5% savings of our total budget.
Of itself this does not sound so bad. But unfortunately when you dig into the detail, as I have done, the consequences are somewhat dire for the Waitakere Ranges.
First up the means of calculating the loss means that the cuts are not evenly spread throughout the region. Per head of population this local board’s cuts are in the vicinity of $13.70 per year. in Howick and Kaipatiki (both $7.21) and in Orakei ($7.29) things are not nearly as bad.
We are not the worst in the region. In Mangere-Otahuhu which is an area of deprivation the loss is $14.19 per head. And in Aotea, which has little infrastructure and depends heavily on its local board, the figure is an eye watering $330 per head.
The unfair treatment of the local board is not the only matter of concern.
Climate change mitigation and adaption should be Tamaki Makaurau Auckland’s top priority, but the proposed cuts in the 2023/2024 Annual Budget proposal have the potential to undermine that priority.
If confirmed by Council the Waitakere Ranges Local Board’s budget will be cut $765,786, nearly 10 percent of our budget for community delivery.
Local environmental projects, the arts and community support will bear the brunt of these anticipated cuts.
The board is faced with having to severely curtail its weeds and predator control programmes as well as support for community environmental action. The recent flood related slips clearly show that weed infested slopes are unstable and we urgently need to improve stability. And cuts will mean that we will have to curtail action on climate change at a time when such action has never been more necessary.
Arts programs and facilities that contribute greatly to the area will have to be cut. In particular, funding for Te Uru Gallery may be compromised, even though the gallery has transformed Titirangi since its opening and has improved business conditions in the village dramatically.
Community organisations that perform important work very efficiently will be drastically affected.
Local Board funding is not the only area where cuts are proposed. The Mayoral budget also proposes a $20 million reduction in general rates funding of regional services such as community and education programmes, regional events, economic development and other social activities as well as $8 million in regional contestable grants.
If you want to make a submission the website is here.
You may want to make the following points:
- Rates should increase to the current rate of inflation (7.2%). Anything less than this is a net cut at a time when the repair job for Auckland is of utmost importance.
- You oppose cuts to local board funding. If there are to be cuts to local board funding these cuts should be shared equally between all local boards.
- You oppose cuts to environmental services. If there is one thing that recent events has shown it is how threatened our environment is and how much we rely on it. Now is the time to enhance environmental protection, not degrade it.
- You oppose cuts to community groups. These groups perform a great deal of good and cutting their funding at a time where community resilience is at a premium is a retrograde step to take.
- You oppose cuts to the Arts Sector. Out west the Arts are a major contributor to our quality of life as well as a huge benefit to the local economy. Council’s investment in this area has direct tangible social and economic effects. We cut support at our peril.
- As far as possible debt should be used to fund all activities where there is a long term benefit.
- You oppose the sale of Airport Shares. These will start paying dividends again later this year and are appreciating in value. Selling them now will cost us in the long term.
Consultation closes on March 28, 2023. Be sure to have your say.