As a ratepayer what right do you have to find out details of expenditure of your ratepayer dollars?
Not a lot would it seem.
Even our elected representatives often don’t have ready access to such information.
What then is the function of our elected representatives?
Under a heading on Auckland’s website it states:
“Representatives and bodies
Auckland Council has two complimentary and non-hierarchical decision-making parts — the governing body (which consists of a mayor elected by all Aucklanders and 20 councillors) and 21 local boards. The governing body focuses on big picture region-wide strategic decisions. Local boards represent their communities making decisions on local issues, activities and facilities.”
On 19 March I sent an email to the Chair of the Henderson-Massey Local Board, Vanessa Neeson, asking three questions about the widening of Te Atatu Rd – one being “Has the HMLB at any stage seen a budget?”
On 20 March she advised me she had referred the matter to Auckland Transport. (AT)
On 22 March Owena Schuster from AT advised me “The project is listed in the Annual Plan p284, about line 24.”
I checked the AP and found on p283, not p284, the following entry at line 24:
Te Atatu Rd: Corridor Improvements Auckland Transport Regional 5,067
— hardly a budget
Further to phoning Vanessa Neeson, on 29 March I sent an email asking “Are you satisfied with the answer to question 2?”
On 6 April I sent her a reminder.
On 7 April her response was “It’s Easter and I am busy with my Grandchildren in Australia.”
On 16 April I sent her another reminder.
On 18 April she responded, “I have asked for an explanation for the answer to question 2.” She sent copies of that email to Linda Smith and Sharlene Riley.
On 18 May, a month later, I sent an email asking “Have you received a satisfactory explanation yet?”
On 5 June I sent her a reminder.
I made several attempts to contact her by phone to no avail.
On 8 June I rang 3010101 and asked to speak to Linda Smith or Sharlene Riley. I was told neither was available. Sensing I was being given the run-around I lodged a complaint at 12.25 pm.
On 12 June I sent an email to Vanessa at 11.25 am saying I would appreciate the courtesy of a reply. Twelve minutes later she sent me an email saying “As you will see I sent you a reply on Wednesday, 6 June.” Enclosed was a reply dated 6 June that I had not previously seen.
This is not in our decision making allocation so we have no decision making over the Auckland Transport budget. We have of course seen the budget line item in the RLTP.”
Three months to get this!
I leave you as the reader to judge whether or not you regard this as accountability and transparency!