Councillor claims rate distribution “unfair”.

28 March 2022. Mahurangi Matters newspaper. Rodney’s rural communities continue to be discriminated against when it comes to equitably allocating infrastructure budgets across Auckland, according to Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers.

Cr Sayers says rural and residential households pay a comparable amount in overall rates, but rural (including rural-semirural and lifestyle) households are not receiving their fair proportion of infrastructure investment.

“The rural community makes up half of the population in Rodney and pays half of the rates, yet receives zero council services in terms of fresh water supply, sewage treatment services, footpaths or bus services on the unsealed roading network,” he says.

“The primary council investment back into the rural communities is through Auckland Transport via maintaining the unsealed roading network.”

Cr Sayers says $5.6 million a year is spent on maintaining the unsealed roading network.

He says this is inadequate.

“Due to population growth and increased traffic volumes, a number of roads are now unsafe to remain gravel roads.

“I have called for $12.4 million a year to be allocated to sealing and permanently upgrading the rural roads.

“Not all of Rodney’s roads need sealing. However, many meet the criteria to be sealed and have been deferred for years. This due to the Mayor’s Emergency Budget cuts when the regional budget was slashed to an average of $4 million pa.”

Cr Sayers says the day-to-day maintenance budgets, dealing with problems such as potholes and grading, also needs to be increased as these were last reviewed more than three years ago.

There is adequate money being collected from rural households, nevertheless an unfair proportion is being directed away from rural community needs and into urban-focused footpaths, cycleways and bus services,” he says. “There needs to be a fair balance between urban and rural infrastructure investment.”

Cr Sayers says Auckland Council was unable to provide a breakdown of the amount of Regional Fuel Taxes or Development Contributions collected from the Rodney ward. Watercare collects separate water fees for investment into fresh water and waste water infrastructure.