Local impact of Auckland Council’s budget cuts discussed

Details of what Auckland Council’s budget cuts may mean at a local level are only now becoming apparent, with that information being handed out in bite-sized chunks to local board members at recent workshops, largely in Confidential, with no media or public access.

The information that is available, however, makes it clear that there will be an impact on local projects such as the building of the Orewa seawall, as well as effects on the use of council facilities and open space.

Council proposed either a 3.5 percent, or 2.5 percent general rates increase in its Emergency Budget.

In a presentation to the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board workshop on June 11, lead financial advisor Mark Purdie told members that local boards will have some hard decisions to make about how to reduce operating expenditure and defer capital expenditure.

Local board funding, provided by Council, for local initiatives (LDI) and asset-based services are likely to be significantly reduced.

Under the 3.5 percent scenario, the LDI budget would reduce by 10 percent ($196,002), whereas a 2.5 percent general rates increase would reduce the local board’s LDI budget by 20 percent ($392,005), Mr Purdie said.

He said that under the 3.5 percent option, it is likely that funding for the Orewa Seawall would be deferred until the 2022 financial year. Reduced opening hours for Council facilities, scaled back programmes in community centres, libraries and arts facilities, reductions in pest eradication and deferred work on walking and cycling projects are also being considered.

There would also likely be deferrals of investment in transport safety programmes and reductions in the number and frequency of public transport services.

A 2.5 percent rates increase was likely to mean that community facilities “with low utilisation” may be permanently closed.

Reductions in Council staff, and less outsourcing, were possible under either rates scenario.

The local board has to provide its feedback on the proposals before Council’s governing body debates its Emergency Budget on July 16.

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