Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Brown’s budget proposals get mixed response from Auckland councillors

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown is proposing an overall rates rise of 4.66%, along with plans to sell the council’s $1.91 billion stake in Auckland International Airport. Photo: David White / Stuff

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown’s budget proposal includes an overall rates rise of 4.66% and plans to sell council’s $1.91 billion stake in Auckland International Airport – but not all councillors are on board.

Brown is seeking to plug a $295 million hole in Auckland Council’s budget and has also proposed savings of $130m across Auckland Council and its council-controlled organisations.

“We want to make systemic changes to ensure there isn’t a rates rise shock in 2024,” he said. “If tough decisions and trade-offs are not made now, Auckland households may still face a hefty rates rise next year.”

But Manukau ward councillor Alf Filipaina said the latest announcement by Brown is only part of the full draft budget he will have to present this month.

“He can put out all the press releases he wants, but I’m waiting for him to put forward his full budget proposal to see what he wants to do and then we can debate it,” he said.

“And I want to hear what the repercussions are from this for south Auckland from the council’s finance team.”

Filipaina said councillors will meet for two budget workshops this week, with the mayor’s proposed rates rise and airport shares sale will no doubt be front and centre of discussions.

Brown has said the sale of the council’s airport shares would help reduce debt-servicing costs by at least $88m a year. But Filipaina is opposed to selling.

He said with borders reopened, the airport would start to provide an important source of revenue to the council through dividends.

Like Filipaina, Manurewa-Papakura ward councillor Angela Dalton said she’s keen to see the mayor’s full budget proposal.

She said the 4.66% overall rates rise might sound good at face value, but detail is important.

“You don’t want to find out they are going to close the library two days a week,” Dalton said.

And she said it’s important the councillors weigh up the pros and cons of any sale of the council’s 18% stake in the airport.

“I would like to see some independent advice on the airport shares to see if they are worth holding onto.”

Auckland Franklin ward councillor Andy Baker said he’s keen to debate the mayor’s budget proposals in more depth later this week.

He said he had some questions around Brown’s proposal to reduce the funding for local board staff and said it is important the right areas are targeted in any cost-cutting.

But he said he is open to discussing the sale of the council’s stake in the airport.

The airport suspended dividend payments during the pandemic as its profits took a hit, along with the entire aviation sector.

But in August the company which runs it said international travel had made a “spirited comeback” after the country’s borders reopened and it expected its underlying business to return to profit this year after two years of losses.

Local democracy reporting

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