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What the long-term plan means for Aucklanders: Part 2

Auckland Council’s long-term plan is open for public feedback until the end of the month. Photo: Supplied
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Local Democracy Reporting | Free Public Interest News Service

Animal control improvements, higher parking fees and cutting “stupidly expensive” roading projects are all in Auckland’s long-term plan. Reporter Alka Prasad explains what this means for Aucklanders.

Auckland Council’s long-term plan (LTP) sets out what goals Auckland Council wants to achieve in the next 10 years, how they will do it and how they’re going to pay for it.

The plan goes to review every three years and this year’s review will decide the direction Auckland Council goes in from 2024 to 2034.

A majority of Auckland councillors agreed on Mayor Wayne’s Brown’s proposed plan two weeks ago and Aucklanders can now give their feedback.

Here are more key issues Brown wants to tackle in the LTP:

1. Community spending
Brown is proposing $5.9m per year to “allow our animal control officers to do their job more efficiently, including improvements and increasing capacity in our animal shelter network”.

The LTP proposes putting $5.9m to improve animal control. Photo: Supplied

However, there won’t be any extra funding for Haumaru Housing, which provides affordable housing for older people.

Brown also wants to look at reducing the number of rubbish bins across Auckland homes.

2. Public transport and “stupidly expensive” road infrastructure

The current proposal could also mean increased parking charges and fines, hiring more parking enforcement staff and charging people for the time of day they use car parks.

Brown says Auckland Transport (AT) asked for $24b to get a programme up and running to support transport services around the city, but will instead receive $14b.

The plan also proposes a weekly public transport pass so adults would pay $50 maximum to use public transport per week.

Brown says the council may also bring in a Paywave option for transport fares.

A $50 weekly cap on travel and Paywave options could be coming to Auckland Transport. Photo: Supplied

He has also asked Auckland Transport to improve the route from Māngere to the Airport.

“Rather than focusing on a $40 billion tunnel, I would like to see Auckland Transport investigate the feasibility of a low-cost bike ferry connecting Northcote and the city centre.”

This then brings the mayor to cycleways.

Funding for cycleways will be cut by $141.5m in the current proposal, which will leave $430m for a lower cost cycleways programme on top of existing funding for current cycle projects.

He agreed to renew roads around the city if the Government can fund $5.5b: “We can only afford to fund renewals if we have access to a fair contribution from the National Land Transport Fund.

“The Government has underfunded road renewals in Auckland for years. They must fully fund their 51 per cent share of this spend and I will be lobbying the minister and Waka Kotahi hard to make sure this happens,” Brown says in the proposed plan.

“Raised tables are also stupidly expensive. Cutting them should save at least $80 million dollars while still delivering cost effective location and risk based safety interventions.”

He’s also proposing to allocate $124m to improve unsealed roads: “It is important to recognise over 70 per cent of Auckland’s land area is rural and this requires a fair share of infrastructure funding.”

And Brown is proposing over $190 million to progress removing level crossings, including those needed for City Rail Link and to level crossings in Takanini.

Brown is calling on central government agencies Waka Kotahi and Kiwi Rail to co-fund road infrastructure projects. Photo: Supplied

He says he will discuss co-funding options with central government: “I will continue our advocacy for a greater share of these costs to be borne between Kiwi Rail and Waka Kotahi.”

3. Storm recovery

Auckland Council introduced the Making Space for Water programme last year after the Auckland Anniversary floods, which will help affected areas over the next decade.

Brown says the Government will help fund the council buyout of properties that aren’t safe to live in.

“The rest of it will need to be funded through rates, so I want to make sure we are getting the best value for the spend and levels of risk, not for gold plated solutions,” he says.

Auckland Council faces ongoing recovery costs from last year’s Anniversary Day floods. Photo: Supplied

4. Auckland Future Fund

An Auckland Future Fund will mean the council will be self-insured, which should save $25m in insurance costs, according to Brown.

The fund will include the $3-4b investment from selling shares in Auckland Airport and leasing the ports around Auckland to a private company for the next 35 years.

Brown says at least $1b is currently earmarked to cover insurance of all council-owned assets and he expects the fund to rake in 7.5 per cent per year, a minimum cash return of $180m to stop bigger rates rises.

This will secure the future financial position of the council, giving future generations more choices about investing in Auckland’s future, he says.

“Future councillors in 20 years won’t be sitting in a gloomy town hall looking at even gloomier financial statements.”

Brown proposes leasing the Ports of Auckland to inject $3-4b into a potential Auckland Future Fund. Photo: Supplied

He says leasing the ports could give more than $2b back to Aucklanders, compared to the $900m in dividends that the ports would provide over the next 35 years if council kept full ownership.

There is a target to sell $300m in Auckland assets over 10 years and finish work on the Auckland golf strategy.

5. Local boards structure

A “fairer funding model” is proposed for local boards to change the weight of different factors when deciding how much to fund boards.

Currently, Auckland Council decides how much boards get based on the size of the population, the level of deprivation in an area and the geographic location.

Population size is given 90 per cent of the weight, while deprivation and geography are given 5 per cent weighting each.

The new model could see 80 per cent of weight given to population, 15 per cent deprivation, with geography remains at 5 per cent.

“This will be achieved and funded by a 50 per cent reallocation of funding from some local boards and 50 per cent of new funding in the LTP and completed by year three of the LTP,” Brown says.

Auckland Council proposes allocating $300m to support local boards in their transition to the new model, with $35m set aside to upgrade indoor sports facilities and another $5m to progress a waterfront swimming pool.

To sum up, Brown says: “My proposal is what I would call the middle or ‘right-sized’ option that balances the need for critical spending and the need to keep rates lower for Aucklanders. It is based on making the most with what we already have.”

Have your say, Anyone of any age, background or location around Tāmaki Makaurau can give feedback on the plan.

Submissions are open until Thursday 28 March, in May the updated proposal will go to a vote, then the changes will be picked up in June.

Auckland Council recommends making a submission online but you can download a submission form and post it through, and attend hui around the city over the next few weeks to ask questions and learn more about the kaupapa.

Local democracy reporting

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