Auckland Council is currently consulting on the draft Mayoral budget.
For the Waitakere Ranges Local Board the budget if approved would have significant consequences.
Sandra Coney and I have already gone into some of the detail of what the consequences would be. The proposal is that the local board would have its budget cut by $765,000. This is well over 10% of the budget that we have control over and will cause major damage.
Our environmental spend will be devastated. The recent storms have shown the need to protect trees and deal with weeds to hold slopes together and prevent slips. At a time when we need to increase the spend on weeds and pests we will have to cut back on our current spend.
Our arts and culture spend will be severely compromised. The Arts sector in the west not only enriches the area but it is also a significant driver of economic activity and employment. It is not a nice to have. It is an essential feature of the west.
And community groups will be severely compromised. I am well aware of the multiplier effect of grants and payments that we make. Groups use this to either obtain further funding from other sources or to get locals to contribute voluntarily to improving local areas. Without this help their efforts may cease completely.
The Local Board’s recent have your say event attracted a number of submitters, way more than usual. I will not mention presenters by name but there was real passion as well as reason in all of the submissions and points they made were very cogent. They included:
- Good governance of the city takes a long term view and the current proposal is a very short term view.
- Some of the developments at the edge of the city will incur massive expense and make the city less sustainable. We are better off intensifying.
- First world cities have cost. The City Rail Link even now is still a much needed and transformative project.
- Events provide tremendous social and economic and business benefits. To cut them is retrograde.
- A larger rates increase would be equitable. The recent storm events provide social licence to do that.
- A number of environmental groups emphasised the thousands of hours of voluntary work modest support to them achieves. They also pointed out that weed and pest control is a continuing effort, and if efforts were stopped even for a short time then the environment would quickly deteriorate and the work of many years would be wasted.
- Citizen Advise Bureau received considerable comment. For a relatively modest amount they have hundreds of thousands of interactions with Aucklanders in need. This will be lost if funding is cut.
The suggestion that community leases should be increased to raise revenue received some attention. It was pointed out that the presumption of increased income was illusory. If rates are increased R&R groups would have as one of the major roles the raising of funds for Council. Many would not and would hand their hall back to Council. This would *increase* expenses for Council as the voluntary work of locals would have to be replaced by paid work from Council employees or contractors. Rather than using their efforts to contribute to community their efforts would be to enrich Council. Instead of Council being a giver it would become a taker. And in the meantime Community would be weakened.
The overwhelming message was the multiplier effect that local board and Council funding has. And what would be lost if this funding is cut.
What sort of city do you want to live in? If you do not wish to live in a city that is going backwards environmentally, artistically and socially then please submit.
Submissions close at 11 pm 28 March. You can make a submission online at akhaveyoursay.nz/budget.