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Efeso Collins calls for more investment in South Auckland after Covid-19 cutbacks

Fa'anana Efeso Collins
<em>Manukau Ward councillor and 2022 Mayoral Candidate Fa'anana Efeso Collins. Photo: Facebook</em>
Manukau Ward Councillor and 2022 Mayoral Candidate Fa’anānā Efeso Collins. Photo: Facebook
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Local Democracy Reporting | Free Public Interest News Service

Auckland mayoral candidate Fa’anānā Efeso Collins says South Auckland is still playing catch-up after the council’s budget cutbacks in 2020 and 2021 and it’s more important than ever that the supercity invests in the area.

The council announced this week that the public consultation for the 2022/2023 annual budget will begin on February 28 and run until the end of March.

It includes a $1 billion climate action package, which is expected to reduce carbon emissions and deliver more public transport, cycle and walkways over the next decade.

Meanwhile a proposed average general rates rise of 3.5 per cent, coupled with a new targeted rate for climate change and other plans, could see some ratepayers facing increases of up to 6 per cent.

Collins said South Auckland was hit hard by the council’s 2020/2021 Emergency Budget cutbacks, which saw some major projects deferred or delayed and last year’s 10-year Recovery Budget showed the supercity’s finances remain tight.

But the Manukau Ward councillor said it was important South Auckland wasn’t left behind.

“A decade on in the supercity, there are still some imbalances that need to be worked through because each of the previous local councils came to amalgamation at different points,” Collins said.

“Counties Manukau is playing catch-up, but given the serious financial constraints being experienced by the council today, it is possible to continue to invest locally while being financially prudent.”

And Collins said it was vital that people in South Auckland got out and had their say on the budget.

“Out south, we want better public transport routes, more trees planted, well maintained sports grounds and good waste services,” he said. “These are some key items among others that we keenly seek feedback from residents on.”

Under the latest budget, South Auckland local board areas (Māngere-Ōtāhuhu, Manurewa, Ōtara-Papatoetoe and Papakura) will receive $16.5 million to renew and develop assets and $65.4m to maintain and operate assets and provide services.

That compares to Central Auckland local board areas (Albert-Eden, Maungakiekie-Tāmaki, Ōrākei, Puketāpapa and Waitematā), which will receive $25.5 million to renew and develop assets and $86.5 to maintain and operate assets and provide services.

Finance and performance committee chairwoman Desley Simpson said producing the supercity’s annual budget was a complicated process.

And she said the figures on how much funding each area was expected to receive didn’t include major regional infrastructure projects the council funded that might cut across different areas.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Simpson said.

She said projects in South Auckland, like the $69m Puhinui Station in Papatoetoe, had received considerable council funding in recent years.

“The council’s job is to look at Auckland in its entirety and prioritise where the funds need to be spent.”

Mayor Phil Goff said the budget had a strong focus on tackling climate change, responding to the financial pressures faced by council and continuing to invest in Auckland’s infrastructure.

“We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change – 2021 was the hottest year in New Zealand, since records began 110 years ago, and we are seeing increasingly frequent extreme weather such as droughts and flooding,” he said.

“Funding raised by the proposed climate action targeted rate will lay the foundation for the urgent action we need to take to avoid our children and grandchildren becoming the victims of a climate disaster.”

Slightly edited for clarity

Local democracy reporting

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