18 June 2019. Rural ratepayers continue to be robbed blind by Auckland Council. The facts tell the story.
Below are figures secured from Auckland Council that show Rodney rural landowners pay $33 million in general rates but only $6 million per annum is invested back into maintaining and renewing the unsealed roads.
This is disgraceful and clearly shows why so many people are frustrated at the state of their unsealed roads when rural households receive minimal other services from the Council.
The $6 million currently allocated to unsealed road maintenance has remained unchanged for the past five years even though the cost of fuel and materials, as well as the volume of traffic damaging the roads has been increasing.
This is hopelessly inadequate as budgets need to keep pace with inflation and other rising costs. The end result is less maintenance is getting done.
In the last Auckland Council budget Rodney was successful in winning a quadrupling of the road sealing budget (Capex) from an average of $3.3 million to an average of $12 million a year.
I am now calling for an increase for the unsealed roading maintenance budget (Opex) up from the $6 million and for it to be inflation adjusted, every year.
Rural rates are being siphoned primarily to subsidize Auckland’s rail, ferry and bus services which run at losses totalling into the hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Auckland’s public transport system has grown so rapidly that it requires more and more funding but that shouldn’t mean that Rodney’s rural ratepayers get penalised.
The $1 billion blowout in the CRL rail project to $4.4 billion will only compound this problem as the Council scrambles to find the money from somewhere. Rodney’s hard fought for gains must be vehemently defended going forward.
Of the $77 million in total rates Rodney pays, I have been successful in keeping my election promise of getting more than we pay spent back into Rodney, with $95 million a year being spent back. This extra spending has primarily had to be invested into making up for missing infrastructure within our townships. Far more still needs to be spent to lift us to parity with the rest of Auckland.
It strikes me as extremely unequitable that Rodney’s rural ratepayers, in total, pay almost $38 million ($37.97m – or half of the $77 million pa all of Rodney pays) and further financial wrestling is required to ensure all of Rodney’s ratepayers benefit more from being part of the Super City.
I am working hard to bring forward the $12 million a year sealing program, which is only delivering $4.7 million of seal a year. More roads need to be sealed more quickly.
My other beef is that the roadside culverts need to be better maintained and the quality of workmanship around road maintenance needs to be more proactively policed in order to give ratepayers confidence about getting value for money.
On the question of additional targeted rates, I do not support them. Auckland Council can make significant savings eliminating the need for additional targeted rates. So far it has failed to bring its wastage and over spending under control.