This month’s ‘Viewpoint’ is about you considering your own point of view!
With the Mayor and Councillors being in the Press a lot around Auckland’s rate increases I am continually being asked what the Mayor and Councillors are doing, and in particular how Cr Penny Webster is voting on matters.
In response summarised below are the voting records. It is prudent to remember Councillors have to consider both local as well as regional priorities. You may wish to create your own opinion about the decisions being made.
On 5 November 2014 the Mayor, 20 Councillors and two Maori members considered the Mayor’s “wish list” with its associated ten year spending budget and rate increases. Debate included, amongst other things, having an average rate increase of 2.5% and asking Council to find savings from within its own internal costs. The Mayor voted against this. Cr Webster and 14 other Councillors voted against this as well. Seven Councillors voted in favour. Because more votes were against than for it, this meant this “thrifty approach” was squashed.
Instead, an average rate increase of 3.5%, along with other conditions, was suggested. The Mayor voted in favour. Cr Webster and 14 other Councillors also voted in favour. Seven Councillors voted against this level of rate increase but lost 16 votes to 7. This meant a 3.5% rate increase was included as an option going forward.
Spending on the City Rail Link was also debated. One idea put forward was not to spend $1.925 billion on its construction, but instead spend $287.5 million to purchase the required land. Also proposed was construction not commencing until the true cost of this immense project was confirmed and the amount of funding from Central Government also verified. The Mayor voted against this wary approach. Cr Webster and 14 other Councillors voted with the Mayor. The suggestion was lost 16 votes to 7.
Transport funding instead went to a new vote, which included committing ratepayers to a City Rail Link budget of $2.213 billion. The Mayor voted for this. Cr Webster and 14 Councillors supported him. Seven of the Councillors voted against it.
The next day of related voting was on 18 December 2014. The Governing Body (no Maori Board vote included this time) met to approve the now revised budget. The Mayor voted to approve it. Cr Webster and 11 other Councillors supported him. Eight voted not to approve it. The result was the budget was approved for public feedback.
On 7 and 8 May, after public feedback, the Budget Committee reconvened to vote on any changes. A surprise transport levy was mooted by the Mayor, jumping the rate increase up to an average of 9.9%. Cr Webster and 14 Councillors voted to support his change. Mayor Brown obviously voted in support. Seven Councillors protested and voted against it, but lost.
The final vote ratifying the budget and rate increases will be held 25 June.
Note: The specific wording of each Council resolution, including details on how Councillors voted and the Minutes of the various Committee meetings may be accessed online at http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/