Santa’s sack – a mixed bag

By: Greg Sayers

Season’s greetings and wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas. It’s appropriate timing to look into “Santa’s sack” to see what wins have been achieved with Auckland Council. The biggest has been the dramatic increase in the spending of rates and development contributions back into Rodney. This was signed off by the Mayor and my fellow Councillors in June. Rodney won the largest allocation of money it has ever received. Although this was extremely pleasing, Rodney still needs a lot more spent due to years of under-investment.

Other wins were the introduction of a new bus service provided for from the general rates (rather than from any additional local targeted rate), the road sealing budget was quadrupled ($121m), the Matakana link road is to be built, dangerous rural intersections fixed ($122m), the Dome Valley section of SH1 improved for safety, the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway completed, and Hill Street has finally received enough money to kick start the first stage of necessary design work. These were all hard-fought battles at Town Hall, against city-centric spending.

The wastewater scheme at Algies Bay ($193m), Wellsford wastewater ($15m) and Warkworth fresh water at Sanderson Road ($16m) also show a positive trend of water levy investment flowing back into our local area. Also established was a direct link to the Mayor’s office for the Warkworth River Restoration Trust’s dredging project. Without the advocacy of our local community and ratepayer groups, these achievements would not have been possible and must be acknowledged. The Rodney Local Board has done an outstanding job this year in connection with parks, halls, sport fields, and fulfilling their other responsibilities. I wish to acknowledge their dedicated hard work and continued focus on achieving the community’s aspirations.

Contrariwise, the poor quality of our road maintenance, I believe, is the result of an inappropriate maintenance contract designed by a jailed former Rodney District Council employee. I have given clear instruction to Auckland Transport to renegotiate the contract to meet proper international standards for open market re-tendering, with adequate funding to be allocated to it. I will maintain the political pressure until this occurs.

Equally, I am bitterly disappointed that my mammoth battle to win $89m from Council for the Matakana link road was reduced by the NZTA (government). Furthermore, the $23m shaved off the project got allocated to CBD projects, not to fixing Hill Street. This is a disgrace.

Throughout the year, I have aimed to keep myself above the city’s schoolyard politics, remaining focused on working hard for the best interests of Rodney’s ratepayers – who pay my wages. Accordingly, I would like to take this opportunity the thank each and every person who has contacted me throughout the year for assistance. It has been an absolute privilege to assist you and to meet you. In closing, I would like to again wish you, and your family, a safe and Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Greg Sayers, Rodney Councillor


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