Archive | Auckland Council

Transparency campaign gathers some ears

Transparency campaigner Penny Bright took her message to Auckland Council yet again yesterday.

Yet again, in a campaign that she’s fought for 2 decades, resulting in multiple arrests for her (some of those arrests spitefully contrived but not, subsequently, resulting in convictions), but over the years not too much improvement in transparency.

But it was notable at yesterday’s meeting of the council’s finance & performance committee that fewer ears were deaf to her message, and this time Ms Bright actually had some positive words to say about the opening up of council information.

The need for a change in attitude was reinforced in February with the sentencing on corruption charges of former Rodney District Council & Auckland Transport senior manager Murray Noone to 5 years’ jail, and engineering firm Projenz Holdings Ltd director Stephen Borlase to 5½ years’ jail over roading contracts.

Mr Borlase was found guilty on 8 corruption & bribery charges and Mr Noone was found guilty on 6 charges of accepting the bribes. Projenz also paid for overseas travel for Mr Noone and another senior roading engineer, Barrie George, who was sentenced last September to 10 months’ home detention.

Ms Bright told the committee she wanted to see all council-controlled organisations providing the same details of contracts as Auckland Transport now does, and she wanted subcontracts included.

She told the committee: “The court case proved you have 2 levels of corruption, public to private and private to private where back-end subcontracts are placed.

“The court showed the collaborative model was not working. That must also be reviewed because the proven corruption risk – we have the evidence for that.”

Ms Bright said the Public Records Act had been law since 2005 – created, according to the Government summary, “to support the effective management of records in the public sector… to promote government accountability through reliable recordkeeping, enhance public confidence in the integrity of government records…”

She said more recent guidelines from the Office of the Auditor-general on transparency were very clear and added: “I believe those guidelines have not been enforced.”

She also asked when the council would look at council officers holding private consultancies that dealt with the council.

Council chief financial controller Sue Tindal said the committee would have an opportunity to raise questions about these issues at its second meeting of the week, on Friday, when the quarterly reports of council-controlled organisations are presented.

However, that’s an unnecessarily tortuous process. The council could simply revert to the practice used at the former Waitakere City Council of presenting all details from tenders online when a tender was approved, which wasn’t followed at other councils around the region and wasn’t the practice put in place when Auckland Council was formed in 2010.

Link:
Office of the Auditor-general guidelines

Attribution: Council committee meeting, public forum presentation.

Continue Reading

Council signs off on new-style maintenance contracts

Auckland Council has taken its facilities, tree & ecological maintenance contracts through 2 committees in the last 10 days, finalising a process that began last July, and will sign new contracts this month. The contracts will take effect on 1 July.

The process, called Project 17, will replace procurement agreements signed in 2012 and, community facilities general manager Rod Sheridan said, would bring improvements & savings worth $30 million to the council.

Mr Sheridan & procurement general manager Jazz Singh told the council’s finance & performance committee in a report on Thursday the council had 26 contracts for the supply of these services around the region. Service delivery was duplicated under 20 of them.

They said inconsistencies in facilities maintenance service delivery – due to both internal (different ways of doing things between teams/departments) & external (contract scope/contractor delivery) factors – had long been identified.

“These issues & challenges, under the contracts entered into by council in 2012 following the last major procurement of the facilities maintenance contracts (Project Genesis), included:

  • Duplication in the delivery of services under 20 existing contracts
  • Prescriptive contracts that were not delivering added value
  • Unco-ordinated approach to the management & delivery of services, with multiple contractors delivering across multiple service lines in the same geographic areas
  • Lack of co-ordination in the delivery of services across the council family
  • Inefficient procurement & delivery of minor capital expenditure renewals, and
  • Lack of good quality asset information in a centralised register together with an associated asset condition assessment.”

Local boards & other stakeholders told the Project 17 team that issues for them included:

  • Lack of consultation & engagement with local boards regarding the outcomes from the service delivery
  • Lack of accountability, and
  • Service levels weren’t aligned with local boards’ objectives & requirements.

Service areas align with board boundaries

The new contracts will cover the whole Auckland region, but are structured in service areas aligned with local board boundaries.

The council’s strategic procurement committee (as it’s been renamed) approved supplier recommendations on 24 March and sent them to the finance committee on Thursday for the final tick.

The council will release costs & a full list of successful suppliers at the end of April, once all contacts have been signed.

Mr Sheridan said the procurement process wasn’t about doing the same thing with different suppliers: “Instead, it was about doing something bold & different that would move Auckland closer to being the best performing city in the world.

“The involvement & support of our local boards has been integral to the procurement process, and we sought boards’ input in deciding service levels, the proposed geographical areas & smart procurement outcomes. We need to ensure that everything we do is locally driven & customer-centric.

“We are excited about the innovation this opportunity offers, and using technology to take us into the future. We will be able to empty bins before they overflow by installing sensors and will install counters on public toilet doors to monitor use & schedule cleaning.

“This procurement process has been about ensuring the suppliers who will maintain Auckland’s assets over the next 5 years or more will deliver value for money for ratepayers.

“This is an example of Auckland Council making our size work and, in addition to that, better managed & maintained assets will ultimately lead to further cost savings. We have added $30 million worth of value to the organisation.”

Streamlined service

Finance committee chair Ross Clow said: “From 1 July, Aucklanders can expect to see more responsive, streamlined local maintenance services. One supplier will now manage the cleaning of a public toilet and, while they’re at the site, will ensure bins are emptied, lights fixed, and gates & doors locked or unlocked. Until now, this has been done by different suppliers under different contractual arrangements.

“The procurement process included provisions on standardising service levels across Auckland, introduced key performance indicators to ensure consistent, high quality delivery, and asked suppliers to commit to their communities by using local staff, offices & depots wherever possible.”

The council will continue to manage local suppliers on Waiheke & Great Barrier Islands through its community facilities department.

Link:
Project 17, Auckland Council maintenance contracts

Earlier story:
13 March 2017: Council maintenance contract decision process enters final stages, Panuku report, home fires bylaw

Attribution: Council agendas, release.

Continue Reading

Council maintenance contract decision process enters final stages, Panuku report, home fires bylaw

Auckland Council is nearing the end of a long process to reorganise its maintenance contracts for parks, council buildings & open space, called Project 17.

Preferred suppliers were identified last Friday and the council’s community facilities department is taking its proposals to local boards over the next fortnight, starting with a session at the local board chairs’ forum today.

The material before local boards is extensive, set out in 8 documents:

Attachment 1, political engagement timeline
Attachment 2, local board resolutions (September 2016)
Attachment 3, standard & enhanced assets
Attachment 4, full facilities contract service specifications
Attachment 5, supplier-specific information (in confidential agendas)
Attachment 6, contractor performance balanced scorecard
Attachment 7, tupuna maunga values specification
Attachment 8, contract information (in confidential agendas).

According to the schedule outlined for local boards, the council’s strategic procurement committee is set to make its recommendations on supplier contracts at the end of next week, so the finance & performance committee can agree suppliers, pricing & baseline service levels the following week.

In April, as part of the council annual plan process, local board workshops will be held to discuss locally driven initiative funding priorities, which may include recommendations to enhance maintenance service levels.

In another round of workshops at the end of April & early May, local boards are scheduled to agree local service level priorities.

Public submissions on the council’s annual plan close on Monday 27 March.

The council governing body will meet on 31 May-1 June to finalise its 2017-18 budgets, and new maintenance contracts will start on the first day of the new financial year, 1 July.

In other material before local boards over the next fortnight:

Panuku reports on Wynyard, waterfront strategy & own lease

The first tenants have moved into the Mason Brothers building in the Wynyard Quarter. The building is part of stage 1 of Precinct Properties NZ Ltd’s programme of developing commercial sites in the quarter.

Council organisation Ateed (Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development Ltd) has taken the head lease on the neighbouring new development of 12 Madden St for the establishment of Grid AKL, the coworking space for innovative business & startups. It’s scheduled for completion in July.

Panuku Development Auckland’s lease on its Westhaven office expires mid-year, and the organisation says it’s likely that it will be more cost effective for Panuku to move to a modest-quality building in the cbd rather than remain in its current building.

Panuku is working on a refresh of the waterfront strategy, which will frame future development within the cbd waterfront area. It will be report to the council on the strategy this month, and draft framework plans will be reported in May.

Home fires bylaw

The council publicly notified the draft air quality bylaw for indoor domestic fires on 27 February, and public submissions close on Monday 27 March.

Local boards have been given until Monday 3 April to send in written submissions, and can give oral submissions at a local board hearings session scheduled for Wednesday 19 April.

Links:
Project 17, Auckland Council maintenance contracts
Grid AKL
Draft air quality bylaw & statement of proposal

Attribution: Council agendas.

Continue Reading

A weighty 3 days for Auckland councillors

Auckland Council’s politicians enter day 2 today of 3 days of weighty issues to start the third term of the council.

The planning committee met yesterday, the finance & performance committee gives its first consideration today to mayor Phil Goff’s proposal on the annual budget, and tomorrow the regulatory committee has a number of issues to consider.

I’ll run more extensive reports later in the week on all 3 meetings. For the moment, below are some of the questions resolved at the planning committee meeting:

The committee agreed to lodge an appeal in the High Court against conditions in a KiwiRail designation concerning crossings on the long-proposed Avondale-Southdown railway line.

The committee agreed the council should make a submission on the NZ Transport Agency’s proposals for the East-West link between State highway 1 at Mt Wellington & State highway 20 at Onehunga, set up a political reference group to deal with urgent issues during the hearing, then expanded the reference group because a number of other councillors wanted to be on it.

A political reference group was also set up on the northern corridor improvements project, which is the final piece of the Western ring route jigsaw.

The committee debated whether the housing accord should be extended to allow for the last special housing areas to remain covered by it, instead of falling under the regulations of the new unitary plan, but eventually went with an extension.

Attribution: Committee meetings.

Continue Reading

Council development agency to decide initial shortlist by December

Auckland Council’s new development agency will cut a list of 9 large-site targets down to a shortlist of 2-3 when it reports back to the council’s Auckland development committee on 10 December.

When council strategists started on the project they had a list of 64 large sites that were recommended, referred to as type 1. The agency formed on 1 September, Panuku Development Auckland, will take over from here.

The council’s principal business growth & infrastructure advisor, David Taylor, said in a report to the committee yesterday the type 1 urban redevelopment areas would require a high custodial, long-term approach, such as the redevelopment activities at the Auckland waterfront. This was integral to council priorities such as spatial priorities & special housing areas.

The 9 areas on the list at the moment are Manukau, Otahuhu, Onehunga, Newmarket, Northcote, Takapuna, Mt Eden Station, Avondale & Henderson.

Cllr Cameron Brewer said Newmarket & Mt Eden station were potentially the top 2 in terms of market attractiveness, but asked if they were unlikely to make the shortlist because the council would have less land influence there.

Mr Taylor said all recommended sites had tradeoffs, and at this stage of Panuku’s existence control over how an area developed was important to it: “Without any funding for Panuku, land is a key element.”

Cllr Brewer warned that the public raised concerns about the role the council might get into in development: “If we’re starting to get into the role of purchasing land….” He said Panuku’s role needed to be in forming partnerships and facilitating development not in competing with the private sector.

Cllr Cathy Casey pointed to a role of providing housing for the elderly but was concerned at the emphasis on location, citing the Catholic Church’s Liston Village as an example where there was competition between taking land occupied by a number of elderly residents and using it for a park: “The local board has the view given the housing shortage that we retain the village. The location doesn’t enter into your list, but housing for older people is an issue across the whole region.”

Mr Taylor said Panuku had housing for older people as a separate project line. He said the initial type 1 category was about size, where the council agency could facilitate development and draw in partners: “Where we had some skin in the game was important.”

Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda.

Continue Reading

First priority list proposed for new council development agency

Auckland Council staff will put 9 locations to a council committee on Thursday as priority areas for its new development arm to focus on.

They are: Manukau, Otahuhu, Onehunga, Newmarket, Northcote, Takapuna, Mt Eden Station, Avondale & Henderson.

These areas were selected after an urban location analysis project and will be put to the council’s Auckland development committee as areas for the new agency, to Panuku Development Auckland, to consider.

Panuku Development Auckland was formed on 1 September through the merger of Auckland Council Property Ltd & Waterfront Auckland.

The council’s principal business growth & infrastructure advisor, David Taylor, says in a report for Thursday’s meeting the analysis was done in the transition to recommend locations for the new “type 1” urban redevelopment programme, which would require a high custodial, long-term approach to redevelopment, such as the redevelopment activities at the Auckland waterfront.

Mr Taylor said the work done through this project, and the focus of Panuku especially as it relates to type 1 locations, was integral to council priorities such as spatial priorities & special housing areas.

The new organisation’s board could now shortlist type 1 locations and develop a type 1 programme. Mr Taylor said Panuku would also prioritise the existing portfolio carried over from Auckland Council Property and the treatment of these projects into other less custodial programmes.

“Panuku will seek to develop a view on the full range of programmes – including the next-order type 2 & 3 locations – they will take forward across the Auckland region and will engage further with councillors, local boards & communities on this before the end of the year.”

Attribution: Committee agenda.

Continue Reading

Propbd on Q Th28May15 2 – 4 apartments sell, new bylaws for signs, film fees & nuisance, council shakeup agreed

4 apartments sell at Ray White auction
New signs bylaw in place but healthy food addition rejected
New filming fees schedule
Nuisance bylaw
Shakeup & higher chief executive delegation agreed

1.40pm:
4 apartments sell at Ray White auction

4 of the 6 apartments offered at Ray White City Apartments’ auction today were sold under the hammer. Auction results:

Nova en Scotia, 18 Scotia Place, unit 1A, sold for $280,000, Bain Duigan
Aura, 53 Cook St, unit 1203, sold for $341,500, Dominic Worthington
Aura, 53 Cook St, unit 110, sold for $332,500, Damian Piggin & Daniel Horrobin
The Quays, 99 Customs St West, leasehold, passed in at $200,000, Aled Luffman & James Mairs
Parnell, Cowie Court, 4 Cowie St, unit 6, no bid, Dominic Worthington
Scene 1, 2 Beach Rd, unit 1113, leasehold, sold for $145,000, Dominic Worthington

New signs bylaw in place but healthy food addition rejected

Auckland Council’s governing body adopted its new signs bylaw in a meeting in the old North Shore City Council chamber at Takapuna today, replacing bylaws of the region’s former councils, effective 1 October.

The council rejected a last-minute addition to the recommendation from Cllr Chris Darby for the council’s social policy & bylaws manager to report on a policy “for the advertising of alcohol brands & products, and products & brands that give preference to advertising which supports health & healthy lifestyle choices”.

Cllr Darby said Auckland Transport had adopted a policy in that direction, which Cllr Cathy Casey said arose after she’d photographed a group of schoolchildren at a bus stop where alcohol was advertised.

Although the addition wouldn’t change the bylaw, it was defeated 14-3. However, it may be incorporated in a review of the council’s alcohol reduction policy this year.

New filming fees schedule

The council governing body adopted a new schedule of filming fees from 1 November.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse said: “We have to let people know we’re open for business. This is a big money-earner. It isn’t to make it difficult, it’s to make it easier.”

Nuisance bylaw

The third bylaw the governing body dealt was the property maintenance & nuisance bylaw, to come into effect on 1 November.

Shakeup & higher chief executive delegation agreed

Councillors had a long debate before agreeing a shakeup of the council committee structure. They also agreed raising the financial delegation to the chief executive from the $7.5 million set in 2011 to $20 million, and to increase joint approval with the mayor or relevant committee chair from $10 million to $22.5 million. An attempt by Cllr Cameron Brewer to limit the delegation to the chief executive to $15 million was defeated 13-6.

Link for council items: Today’s governing body agenda

Attribution: Company release.

Continue Reading

Propbd on Q Th14May15 – Ports study format agreed, 4 apartments sell, council approves private plan changes, process review

Ports study format agreed
All 4 apartments sell at Ray White auction
Council approves plan changes, discusses consent process review

Ports study format agreed

Auckland Council’s Auckland development committee agreed the format for its ports study this afternoon in a unanimous vote. Fuller story to come.
Link: Approach to port study set out for Thursday meeting

All 4 apartments sell at Ray White auction

All 4 apartments taken to action at Ray White City Apartments today sold under the hammer, and quickly – a reversal of the auction-room view yesterday, hours after Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler announced changes to lending policy particularly affecting residential investors. Auction results:

H47, 47 Hobson St, unit 1204, sold for $700,000, sales agent Jean Ooi
1 on Ophir, 1 Ophir St, unit 1B, sold for $452,000, Dominic Worthington
Eclipse, 156 Vincent St, unit 14F, sold for $305,000, Krister Samuel
Forte, 37 Symonds St, unit 104, sold for $305,000, Lorraine Garnett

Council approves plan changes, discusses consent process review

Auckland Council’s Auckland development committee began discussing the scoping of its proposed ports study this afternoon after a morning of approving 2 plan changes for notification and a long discussion on a review of resource consent processing in light of the protests over consent allowing felling of some old native trees on a Titirangi section.

Private plan changes approved:

Mt Roskill, 1370-78 Dominion Rd, private plan change 315 approved to be made operative – NZ Transport Agency application to rezone land no longer required for transport purposes to residential B

Balmoral, 178 Balmoral Rd & 16 Rocklands Avenue, private plan change 209 approved to be made operative – application by The Warehouse Group Ltd & subsidiary company Eldamos Investments Ltd to rezone residential sites to business 2 zone as part of development of Warehouse store

On the way the consent applications for construction of a house at 40 & 42 Paturoa Rd, Titirangi, was dealt with, the review panel of senior executives wrote in its report: “In light of the findings of this review, and the particular facts pertinent to the 2 applications under consideration, no particular matters have arisen warranting recommendations associated with the current Resource Management Act reform process.”

However, staff faced a long list of questions from the committee. More to come in a separate report.

The committee deferred discussion of the council 30-year infrastructure strategy because the detail of the item only went to committee members last night.

Link: Committee agenda

Attribution: Auction, council meeting.

Continue Reading

Auditor-general questions slow Auckland consents & forecasting mismatch

Auditor-general Lyn Provost speaks mildly & matter-of-factly when she chides a council, but chide Auckland Council for its building consent processes she has.

Her report, Auckland Council: How it deals with building consents, was presented to Parliament on 29 April (so I’m slow, too, in reporting on it).

Chief criticisms:

  • The council’s paper-based system is all-round inefficient & expensive for both council & applicants – but the move to electronic consenting is planned
  • Total elapsed time for consents suggests the gap between what the council expects and what customers believe is expected of them is wide
  • A sample of charges proved significantly higher than the fees shown on the council website
  • The council communicates poorly or inconsistently
  • Modelling assumptions & predictions differ between the building control department & housing project office
  • The council should extend its predictions the length of the long-term plan, to 2025.

International Accreditation NZ recently reconfirmed Auckland Council as an accredited consenting authority, complimenting it on the quality of its work, and issuing no corrective action requests.

Mrs Provost said the council was performing its responsibilities as a building consent authority “reasonably well”: “Building Control’s internal quality assurance procedures are sound, with systems & technical audits carried out routinely. It also has a good standard of internal reporting of workflows & how well it meets targets.”

She said the council should introduce electronic lodgement of consents sooner than planned, and she raised the question many an applicant asks when confronted with the almost inevitable request for further information.

“Building Control is technically meeting its statutory deadline of processing most applications within 20 working days, but this does not take into consideration the time that applications go ‘on hold’. When total elapsed time is taken into consideration, 80% of applications are processed within 40 working days. The fact that 70% of applications lodged go on hold pending further information suggests there is a large gap between what Building Control expects and what customers believe is expected of them.

“Architectural & building firms told us that Building Control does not always communicate well or in a consistent way, and surveys show that customers are not satisfied with how Building Control communicates. Auckland Council should continue to seek to improve customers’ experiences.”

A sounder response to these criticisms may be on the way – council chief executive Stephen Town said in a presentation to a Colliers International audience this week the council was beginning a review of how you go about getting development approval.

“We’re doing an end-to-end review from the customer’s point of view, how to get a development approval. How do you get everything you need to establish what you want to do? We are committed to changing our strategies & processes,” Mr Town said.

Mrs Provost said the council building control department expected increased demand for services and was working to have the capacity & capability. It’s recruiting new graduates to address challenges it faces because of an ageing workforce, is introducing new training initiatives and is putting measures in place to ensure all technical staff have the requisite qualifications in time to meet new regulatory requirements.

It was also carrying out “risk-based consenting” initiatives to reduce the processing times for minor work, for standardised housing consent applications and for building firms that enter into specific agreements with the council: “These good steps are in the early stages of development.”

The Auditor-general said giving staff tablets to record inspections should improve productivity.

But the question remained: How do council charges in a sample taken by the Auditor-general’s office differ so much from those the council posts on its website? “My staff compared Auckland Council’s consent charges to those of other large local authorities. Because of differences in how buildings are grouped and building value thresholds, it was difficult to draw any firm conclusions. However, I noted that the average cost of a sample of actual consent fees in Auckland was significantly higher than the fees shown on Auckland Council’s website.

“This suggests more time was needed to process the consent applications than was expected. The differences from other local authorities provide an opportunity for Auckland Council, and all local authorities, to discuss how to get costs into line or to make comparisons easier.”

The forecasting model used to predict future demand for services is continually being refined. The assumptions and predictions used in modelling by the Housing Project Office and Building Control differ.

Mrs Provost said far fewer building consents had resulted from the Auckland housing accord & special housing areas than Building Control expected: “The model will need to be adjusted to take account of the different bases of measurement between Building Control & the housing project office.

“I consider that the model should also be improved by including projections to at least the next long-term plan horizon (2025). It should also explicitly link the timing & productivity benefits of transformation projects to the resources needed.”

Link: Auditor-general, report on Auckland building consents

Attribution: Auditor-general’s report.

Continue Reading

Propbd on Q Th7May15 (2) – Symonds unit sells, transport levy approved

One sells, one passed in at apartments auction
Council agrees interim transport levy

3.48pm:
One sells, one passed in at apartments auction

One cbd apartment was sold and one on the Great North Rd ridge in Grey Lynn was passed in at Ray White City Apartments’ auction today. Auction results:

Ariki, 221 Great North Rd, unit 3F, passed in at $680,000 after reserve declared at $700,000, sales agent Rae Zhang
96 on Symonds, 96 Symonds St, unit 1008, sold for $215,000, Daniel Horrobin & Damian Piggin

Council agrees interim transport levy

Auckland Council’s budget committee approved an interim transport levy – $99/year/residence, $159/year/business, or $2 & $3/week – at its long-term plan meeting today.

The levy is intended to be in place for 3 years while alternative funding is resolved and estimated to raise $170-179 million/year for non-city rail link works.

The Government has so far rejected both alternatives proposed in a consultation paper, a fuel tax versus motorway tolling, but mayor Len Brown said discussions were still underway.

The committee rejected an alternative from Cllrs Dick Quax & Cameron Brewer to find the money within current council opex budgets, and an alternative worked on by Cllr Ross Clow to raise the same money but with reduced impact on lower-value property.

Following the transport levy decision, the committee spent the rest of the afternoon going through a list of items put up through other committees, including a call for Regional Facilities Auckland to return to stakeholders on its proposal to rejig stadium use.

Well down the list (after my departure) was a proposal to change the council’s development contributions policy. I expected the proposal to be carried, going on voting during the day, but will confirm that tomorrow.

Once those items are all dealt with, the committee was to vote on creating Development Auckland Ltd, a redevelopment & regeneration authority along the lines of the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority in Perth, Western Australia. That vote might come at the end of the afternoon or early tomorrow, but I expect it to be carried.

Attribution: Auction, council committee.

Continue Reading
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux