Records broken as Aucklanders have their say

A record number of Aucklanders have had their say on Auckland Council’s 2020/2021 Emergency Budget.

More than 34,800 people took part in the three-week consultation which closed on June 19. It is the highest number of submissions received on a consultation since the council’s formation in 2010.

The budget and consultation were in response to the financial impact of Covid-19, which has seen a forecast shortfall in revenue of more than half a billion dollars over the next financial year.

As part of the consultation, Aucklanders were asked whether they supported a 2.5 or 3.5 per cent average general rates increase, as well as a rates postponement scheme to ease pressure on those suffering financial hardship because of Covid-19.

A suspension of the Accommodation Provider Targeted Rate – better known as the bed tax – to provide relief to the accommodation sector was also consulted on.

Phil Goff said the record amount of feedback indicates how seriously Aucklanders take this crisis.

The budget document, in an analysis of asset recycling opportunities to help mitigate the financial impacts of the Covid-19 situation on the Auckland Council, tries to identify services the council could exit. In a summary of potential opportunities, the document highlights a number of properties which might be surplus to council requirements.

The council’s development arm Panuku’s ‘rationalisation pipeline’ as at May lists many properties across Auckland but says they have not yet been declared surplus by council. Properties considered but not approved for sale by the Finance and Performance Committee include the old Howick Borough Council Chambers at 34 Moore Street in Howick and 80 Vincent Street in Howick.

The list is significantly longer under a ‘proposed pipeline of non-mandated properties 2020/2021’.

Local properties on the list are 72R Karaka Road, Beachlands; 2R Ti Rakau Dr, Pakuranga; 20 (part) Uxbridge Rd, Howick; 16 Fencible Dr, Howick; 84 Cosgrave Rd, Ardmore; 76R Aberfeldy Avenue, Highland Park; 111R Golfland Drivbe, Howick; 9R Fortyfoot Lane, Sunnyhills; 1R Hutchinsons Rd, Highland Park; 54R McCahill Views, Highland Park; 28R Simon Own Place, Howick; 100R Uxbridge Rd, Howick; 24 Saleyard Rd, Whitford; 54 Whitford Park Rd, Whitford; 751 Whitford-Maraetai Rd, Whitford; 213R Fisher Parade, Sunnyhills; 107R Uxbridge Rd, Cockle Bay; 2R (part) Bucklands Beach Rd, Bucklands Beach; 116R Reeves Rd, Pakuranga Heights.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the record amount of feedback indicates how seriously Aucklanders take this crisis.

“We will consider this feedback carefully when making budget decisions, to ensure that we continue to provide the essential services Aucklanders rely on while also aiding in the economic recovery from the pandemic,” he said.

Finance and Performance Committee chair Councillor Desley Simpson said: “Given the magnitude of the challenges we are facing I’m thankful we have received a record number of submissions.

“This tells us Aucklanders are aware of the emergency nature of this budget and how it will impact each and every one of us.”

In addition to the number of submissions received, the council website saw more than 79,000 visits, with numbers of daily visits averaging 10 times that seen in the first annual budget consultation earlier this year.

Feedback received through the consultation is now being sorted and will be reported back to the council’s Finance and Performance Committee on July 8. Decisions will be made on July 16 and then formally adopted by the Governing Body on July 30.

Final documents and details of the decision will be publicly available from mid-August.