by Brian Hale
The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance has been waging a campaign against the Auckland Council’s wish to increase rates rather than reduce them. Their stance is that, as so many ratepayers are currently in financial difficulty, the Council should do everything in their power to reduce the rates burden not increase it.
This is especially so because they have recently revealed the 86 Council employees being paid more than $250,000 and that of the 12,000-odd Council staff, 2831 are paid salaries of more than $100,000. However there seems to be a great reluctance on the part of the Council to do anything significant to curb any of these costs.
In our own back yard they are just making life more and more difficult for everyday members of our community.
Holly Southernwood, the organiser of the Helensville Christmas Parade says, “Almost a month ago I was advised that Council will likely reduce, at least, Christmas Parade funding, due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Yet ‘wellbeing’/(morale) is supposedly high priority.”
“At the time of last year’s parade I was advised that the event cannot create any waste that goes into Council street bins. The bins need to be covered for the event! What would be the cost of procuring covers and sending people and vehicles to install them then and who would pay for this then.”
The dilemma of finding sufficient funding for community activities will be increasingly felt in many areas; museums, art centres; market days; hall hire for events. It was such a shame that the Lions club had to cancel their May Book Fair and forego raising around $8,000 because the Memorial Hall was unavailable. Community groups are desperate for funds and it is becoming harder and harder to raise them.
Businesses too get taken for a ride with no comeback. One commercial property owner has just found out that after years of paying hundreds of dollars a year for an annual Building WOF at the insistence of the council, the building does not actually require one. Another property owner with an unoccupied building was expected to pay $926.90 a year for waste water and had to install a water meter to reduce the charge to $225.00 a year even if there was no waste water being discharged at all.
It seems that in all aspects of life bureaucrats have no qualms about spoiling the simple things in life with no benefit whatsoever.
Our elected members, councillors and Local Board members, just like our national politicians, seem incapable of doing what their constituents want. To a man/woman they seem to adopt an attitude of ‘we know what’s best for you so keep quiet and let us get on with it.’ ‘We will send you the bill in due course.’ I cannot believe they behave like this with their own personal budgets, so why do they do so with other people’s money? It is all care and no responsibility.
A last word from The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance taken from an article that Jo Holmes wrote for publication “The council threatens in its emergency budget to cut more vital spending, such as road safety. The strategy is apparently to guilt-trip Aucklanders into supporting higher rates, regardless of current economic pains. And yet, the council has financial luxuries that crisis-hit Auckland households could only dream of.”
If any of our readers have personal examples or a solution to this ever worsening issue please write to me. Let us see if together we can make a difference.