Super City Disaster

My wife and I have recently returned from a six week sojourn in Brisbane — 24⁰-26⁰ daily with a total of two days rain. I’m sure we’ll do it again with the onset of the Auckland Winter. While there I heard murmurings about a push to expand Brisbane into a Supercity stretching from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast. The locals in Noosa at the Northern end of the Sunshine Coast are most resistant to such a move.
On our return to Auckland we noted not only inclement weather but also an inclement political climate. The oft-touted 2.5% rates rise was already exploding to a mythical 9.9% average and according to the Herald 5 councillors were considering abstaining from the most important vote in the Council calendar — the budget. I was also astounded to see the Deputy Mayor, Penny Hulse and the Ambassador for Auckland, John Walker would be absent from the vote. Is there no provision for voting by proxy?
As an Aucklander who’s lived here for 69 years I’ve found it very liveable but with escalating debt and sky-rocketing rates I have grave fears for the future. Having worked hard throughout our lives to achieve an unencumbered home for our retirement, my wife and I are also astounded to hear such comments as “If people can’t afford the rates they should sell up and downsize or move somewhere else.” Why? We’ve always budgeted and lived within our means even when interest rates rose to 23% in 1989. I object to being a guarantor for Council debt over which I have absolutely no control.
I saw debt rise tenfold in ten years as a Waitakere City ratepayer from $64m in 2000 to $640m in 2010. Whenever I expressed concern about rates I was told “If we don’t increase the rates we’ll have to borrow more.” Why? The third option was never mentioned — trim expenditure and live within your means. Every time there was talk of moving to a “fairer” system, it was softening us up for a rates increase. Bob Harvey used to measure everything in hamburgers. —“Oh, it’s only the cost of a hamburger.”
I’ve been through my wait and see period with the Supercity. It’s an unmitigated disaster. There’s no accountability and too much business (including monkey business) is conducted behind closed doors. Even Councillors don’t seem to be in the loop regarding substantial financial decisions. Ratepayers want Councillors who are well informed. What are their salaries?
Len Brown $259,500
Penny Hulse $146,200
Committee Chairs $120,700
Councillors $101,900
My Local Board (Henderson-Massey)
Vanessa Neeson $86,600
Other Members $41,100
Other allowances:
Mayoral car —- full private use
Councillors and Local Board Members: Vehicle mileage allowance, Travel time allowance,
Communication allowance
For further information visit Council/representativesbodies/Documents/201415remunerationauthoritydetermination.pdf
I will do a future post on staff salaries which concern me much more than those of elected members.
We are now seeing debt crises in Greece and Detroit which have come about through mismanagement. This Council seems to think it can keep cranking up rates with very little resistance but the day of reckoning is fast approaching. You can only squeeze so much juice out of an orange or a JAFA for that matter. To add insult to injury, yesterday I received a glossy booklet entitled “Our Auckland” dated July 2015. Under “Letter from Len” it stated “We have kept our promise to only raise general rates by 2.5% next year, down from 4.9% that was previously forecast.” Was Len present in mind at the meeting on 25th June setting the budget or are the Council’s glossy pamphlets simply inaccurate and out of time by the time they reach ratepayers?

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1 Response to Super City Disaster

  1. Esther says:

    I’d also be interested in the other perks – like the value of any pecuniary benefits for positions on Charitable Trusts that are being awarded council contracts of which the Local Board Members and Council Staff are trustees or managers.

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