by Cr Greg Sayers, Councillor for the Rodney ward
Rodney’s rural communities, such as Helensville, continue to be discriminated against when it comes to equitably allocating infrastructure budgets across Auckland.
Rural residential households pay a comparable amount in overall rates, but rural households are not receiving their fair proportion of infrastructure investment.
The Helensville township is a rural township receiving water, storm water and sewage services. However, it often feels like the “poor cousin” with the footpaths and other public facilities not being up to the same standards as Auckland’s other urban centres, although it was encouraging to see some recent roading upgrades from Auckland Transport.
The rural community makes up half of the population in Rodney and pays half of the rates, yet receives zero council services in terms of fresh water supply, sewage treatment services, footpaths or bus services on the unsealed roading network.
The primary council investment back into the rural communities is through Auckland Transport via maintaining the unsealed roading network.
A sum of $5.6 million a year is spent on maintaining the unsealed roading network.
This is inadequate.
Due to population growth and increased traffic volumes, a number of roads are now unsafe to remain gravel roads.
I have called for $12.4 million a year to be allocated to sealing and permanently upgrading the rural roads.
Not all of Rodney’s roads need sealing. However, many meet the criteria to be sealed and are only being deferred due to a lack of budget.
The day-to-day maintenance budgets, dealing with problems such as potholes and grading, also needs to be increased as these were last reviewed more than three years ago.
There is adequate money being collected from rural households, nevertheless an unfair proportion is being directed away from rural community needs and into urban-focused footpaths, cycleways and bus services. There needs to be a fair balance between urban and rural infrastructure investment.
Auckland Council was unable to provide me a breakdown of the amount of Regional Fuel Taxes or Development Contributions collected from the Rodney ward. Watercare collects separate water fees for investment into fresh water and waste water infrastructure.