In spite of the Auckland Council needing to make significant cuts to spending in order to plug a $325 million budget deficit there is some good news looming for rural ratepayers.
In June the Auckland Council will vote to approve its new spending budgets. Included in the budget is a proposal to more than double the amount Auckland Transport is spending in maintaining unsealed roads.
In figures secured by Cr. Sayers the unsealed road maintenance program budget is set to increase from $2.4 million to $5.1 million per annum representing a 113% increase.
According to Sayers this would allow for the number of grading crews to be increased from three to five, which would mean more roads being graded more frequently.
More money would also be available to purchase greater quantities of metal to use on the roads, as well as to ensure culverts were properly maintained and cleared of blockages.
If approved in June the new budget would be effective from July 1, 2023.
“This is extremely good news for rural ratepayers who have been short changed for far too long,” said Cr. Sayers.
“Even though this is a difficult financial time for Auckland Council I will continue to push for a fair share of spending back into Rodney.”
“Although the maintenance budgets are set to increase, I remain concerned that the sealing budgets are not.”
“The sealing budget is currently $4 million a year, but the required level of funding to seal roads to cope with increased traffic growth is $12 million a year.”
Cr. Sayers says the gains made to the maintenance budget were due to the combined efforts of many ratepayers making helpful submissions to the Mayors proposed budget, the Rodney Local Board advocating for better rural roading, and Mayor Brown’s leadership in recognising the poor state of Auckland’s unsealed roads.
“By working collaboratively we have been able to achieve this substantial increase, when in many other areas of Council spending is being reduced,” said Sayers.
“Road maintenance is a core Council function.”
“Mayor Brown also wants to see a better standards in the way the unsealed roads are physically worked on.”
For the first time since the formation of the Super City the Mayor has given a statutory letter of expectation to the Board of Auckland Transport with specific wording mandating improvements to unsealed roads.
The wording of the directive says; “Ensure the road maintenance and renewal program is adequate and supports the whole region, including rural roads. This includes improvements to the rural road maintenance and sealing program, and targets to ensure prompt completion of simple road repairs”.
Cr. Sayers says he had been working closely with Mayor Wayne Brown since the beginning of the year to achieve a fairer allocation of the general rates collected from rural ratepayers to be spent back for rural ratepayers.