Auckland Council moves forward on Monday with approval for public consultation of the mayor’s budget & long-term plan proposals, as altered in a committee meeting then signed off by the council’s governing body on Monday afternoon.
The documents still have some way to go before being implemented, which will happen on 1 July 2018, days after the final council signoff.
The mayor, Phil Goff, unveiled his proposals a week ago and the detail is all contained in the agenda for Monday’s finance & performance committee.
I’ve entered the many links below, including:
- the proposals for improving water quality – forever underbudgeted
- how he proposes to tax non-hotel short-term accommodation providers
- a proposal to eliminate Auckland Council Investments Ltd, one of the council-controlled organisations devised when then-Act Party leader Rodney Hide, as local government minister, looked for ways to separate council & policy from commercial business management
- waste management service charges, and
- finance growth infrastructure.
Auckland Council Investments (ACIL) owns Ports of Auckland Ltd on behalf of the council, and also holds the council’s 22.3% shareholding in Auckland International Airport Ltd. Mr Goff says in his proposal the council could save $1 million/year of opex, but would first need to clarify port company & council roles.
Growth infrastructure funding requires careful scrutiny
The most startling event in all of this comes under the low-key title of “finance growth infrastructure”.
A better system than the old one-off local authority bond issues came in 2009, when the Local Government Funding Agency was formed, and it now has billions of dollars of bonds listed on the NZX to support activity by various councils.
Even so, Auckland Council has been hamstrung for the last 2 years after getting perilously close to its debt ceiling, but with no solution in sight to mounting infrastructure requirements.
The previous government helped out with its Housing Infrastructure Fund, but that never looked like an ongoing, considered solution.
In the mayor’s proposal now, the specific example given for support through the infrastructure partnership model (with the Government) is Watercare’s $1.1 billion Central Interceptor wastewater project, which would facilitate isthmus intensification while also reducing overflows into the harbours.
As with some other mayoral proposals, targeted rates are a preferred option. Making land more useable is one reason for a targeted rate, but making the harbours cleaner redirects the benefits.
This makes it critical that Auckland residents examine how & why funding should be provided, and whether people targeted with project-specific rates will have an option to contest imposition of both the bill & the project.
Agenda items, Auckland Council finance & performance committee, Monday 11 December at 9.30am, Town Hall:
9, 10-year budget 2018-2028 – process overview
10-year Budget 2018-2028 – roadmap
10, 10-year budget 2018-28 – mayoral proposal items for consultation
Mayoral proposal – 20-year budget 2018-28
Transition policy [published separately]
Water quality improvements programme
Natural environment initiatives & funding
Rating of online accommodation providers
Auckland Council Investments Ltd review
11, 10-year budget 2018-28 – other matters for consideration
Waste management service changes
Regulatory fees & charges
Land advisory fees & charges
Business improvement districts (bids)
Rodney Local Board transport targeted rate
Panuku programme options
City centre timing & 2021 events
Non-strategic asset sales
Financing growth infrastructure
12, Local rates pilot
Attribution: Council committee agenda.