Big Wins For Rodney Ratepayers

26 May 2024. Mayor Wayne Brown’s long awaited 10 Year Budget, which sets the future direction for Auckland was passed on 16 May – and it includes a number of major wins for Rodney’s residents and ratepayers according to Rodney ward Councilor Greg Sayers.

“Over 70 percent of Auckland is rural. Rural ratepayers do not receive the same level of Council services as their urban counterparts. However, they faithfully pay their rate bills'” says Sayers. 

For most people living rurally the only substantial Council service they receive is a public unsealed gravel road.

Sayers says many of these gravel roads have been crudely maintained due to local rates not being channelled back into keeping them, and the associated road-side drains, up to standard. Instead these rates have been syphoned off to bolster up urban focussed Council spending.

“This is wrong and unjust, he says. “There needs to be a fair share spent back for rural needs”.

Auckland Transport’s guidelines for rural roads outlines some roads need sealing, others need potholes fixed, dust suppressed, cambers and cross-falls reinstated, culverts cleaned out, regular grading, ample running-surface gavel applied, widths widened and slip hazards stabilised and made safe.

The good news is there has been a massive win to support rural ratepayers. Approved in the budget is $124.6 million for the unsealed roads to have the above improvements implemented. This money is for capital long term fixes which are long overdue for the rural roads, including sealing.  

Similar large sums have been allocated in previous budgets, but with only a fraction spent in years one and two.

The Rodney councillor says he is advocating for the spending of the money to be “front-loaded” in order to “catch up” on the previous years of under investment.

Sayers says as well as this, additional money has been allocated by Auckland Transport to greatly improve the ongoing maintenance service levels. Instead of just one grading crew to cover the entire Rodney area, there are now five grading crews.

This means there will be a dramatic boost to the quality and safety of unsealed roads.

“Such a win has been a long time coming – in fact, ever since the establishment of the Super City” says Sayers. 

Thank you to those members of the public who submitted on the budget, or signed my petition, to help get these changes made.”

For our townships Sayers says he has been pushing hard to have more of our rates spent back locally. In addition to the increase in the spending of rates back into improving local roading, the Rodney Local Board has received a massive funding increase to $48.5 million for the next three years to further support important community programs.

And, on top of that, an additional increase to $102.7 million for building new, and restoring old, Council facilities such as toilets and community centres.

“This is much needed, particularly in the Norwest of Rodney”, he says.

“No other Local Board received such a dramatic increase in funding. These significant wins go a long way towards closing the inequality funding gap Rodney has unfairly experienced since the formation of the Super City.”

The Council budget also had good news for commuters who use bus services across Rodney. Public transport costs have been capped to a maximum of $50 per week. That means the cost for people regularly travelling long distances to work, or to school, on Auckland Transport buses will be reduced. This scheme will be in place before Christmas according to Council. 

The final fixing of the Hill Street intersection (Warkworth) is fully funded with $19.7 million approved as part of the overall Transport portion of the budget.

The start date will be decided by Auckland Transport as part of the Regional Land Transport Plan (another sub-budget) which is currently going through its mandatory public consultation processes.

According to Cr Sayers there were concerns from local residents this project would be cancelled with the removal of the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax which partially funded it. However, the void has been successfully plugged through redirecting local rates and development contributions into financing this project.

More wins were achieved for the Okahukura and Te Arai communities who received the approval they were seeking to self-manage their large area land drainage projects.

“These positive outcomes have been achieved by the Councillor and the Rodney Local Board working constructively with the Mayor to represent the needs of the Rodney ratepayers”, says Sayers.

“The only part of the budget I voted against was increasing the fees and other levy’s Auckland Council can charge,” he said. “My argument was cost savings and efficiency gains should be made in this cost of living crisis. This was in line with public feedback, however, I was outvoted as I was the only Councillor to protest against any increases to fees.”