In tough times what is Auckland Council’s core business?

by Cr Greg Sayers, Councillor for the Rodney ward.

What has frustrated me the most as your Councillor has been many repeated attempts to have Council define what core business is in order to allow the debate to focus on trimming back on non-core Council services.
By way of example Aucklanders’ rates are being used to pay for yoga classes, daycare centres, camping grounds, marinas, golf courses and a host of other services which should be being run by private enterprises.
Mayor Goff has says my comments are “rubbish”. In fact, they are highly accurate and he has been given the evidence to fully support them. So whose comments are really rubbish?
Auckland Council cannot afford to be all things to all people right at this moment. It needs to cut its cloth to fit its revenue in what has been an unprecedented tough year. At the very least the Council needs to peel back services to prioritise the essentials that Helensville needs and to make the tough calls about what services are nice-to-haves in the CBD.
When the eight legacy Councils were amalgamated into the Super City ten years ago, with the promise of requiring fewer staff and having greater efficiencies, a crucial step was overlooked which needs to be corrected.
Each of the different Councils offered an array of different services but no filter was applied to determine if all of the services were appropriate to be provided by the newly formed Auckland Council. A cutting back to provide core services in a cost efficient-way never happened so the staff costs of providing all the services have remained entrenched. A chance was squandered.
What is required is for the Mayor’s current self-sponsored internal cost saving working parties to be replaced by a “razor squad” of competent external people who have no allegiance to Auckland Council. They should be given the authority to go through all of councils operations and cut 10 per cent of unnecessary spending. This rules out elected officials, staff and any current or past consultants being part of such an exercise.
Auckland Council received $129 million from the regional fuel tax but only spent $89 million in the first year of collections on fixing traffic congestion – a core service.
Last year Auckland Council received $148m and spent even less at $79m, so what’s happened to the unspent $109 million?
Ratepayers may be shocked to learn the Council can in turn use the unspent transport money on its own daily operational expenses or for financing its ballooning debt.
I cannot emphasise enough the need for residents and ratepayers to submit between 22 February and 22 March on the Mayors proposed 5 percent rates about what core services you believe need to be supported by the spending of your rates in the Helensville, Parakai and wider local area.

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