Financial prudence conditions Auckland budget

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Phil Goff

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff

Last week I announced my Mayoral Proposal for the 2020-2021 Annual Budget, which will build on the strong progress we have made investing in infrastructure, the environment and the community.

Over the last year, Auckland Council delivered the largest ever annual capital programme of $2 billion, consented more than 14,000 new residential dwellings and achieved over 100 million trips on public transport.

We also achieved $24 million in savings and kept rates increases low.

The 2020-2021 Annual Budget will maintain this discipline and financial prudence while ensuring that Auckland Council continues the work underway to build a world-class city, protect our environment and prepare for the international spotlight in 2021 when the city hosts major international events such as the 36th America’s Cup, Te Matatini and APEC.

Major investments

Auckland growing as a world-class City (Pixabay Picture)

We will invest through Council and Watercare $576 million to continue improving the water quality of Auckland’s beaches, harbours and streams, as well as our freshwater, wastewater and stormwater services.

The recent reopening of several Auckland beaches, including Laingholm Beach, Browns Bay Beach, Armour Bay, Taumanu East, Clarks Beach and Weymouth Beach, some of which had been closed for almost 20 years, shows the value of our investment in water quality across the region.

Major projects starting in the coming year will allow the reopening of St Mary’s Bay and will help substantially reduce wastewater overflows into the Waitematā Harbour, allowing us to do in 10 years what would have taken 30 years—20 years ahead of schedule.

Investment in the environment will also help us tackle the pests, weeds and diseases that threaten our native species. This will include work to upgrade walking tracks to address the spread of kauri dieback and will progress the delivery of large-scale ecological projects such as the North West Wildlink

Towards greener Auckland

Other environmental initiatives in the Annual Budget include planting 1.5 million trees to green our city, reducing the council’s carbon emissions by almost 20 per cent and investing a further $50 million into land for new parks and open spaces so that Aucklanders can enjoy our beautiful outdoors.

Alongside this investment, we will continue to ensure that Auckland Council maximises value for money for Aucklanders in the services we provide and the investments we make. The budget outlines cumulative annual savings of $63 million by 2020-2021, including at least $16 million in 2020/2021, $24 million saved in 2018-2019 and $23 million budgeted saving in 2019/2020.

Value for Money

An Artist’s impression of future Lower Queen Street (City Rail Link Photo)

The Value for Money Committee, which I established in November, will continue to pursue efficiency and benefit opportunity of $500 million over 10 years and prove to ratepayers that the council is working as efficiently as possible.

The Mayoral Budget Proposal will be open for feedback from Aucklanders in the New Year, so I look forward to hearing your views on how we can continue working to build a world-class and inclusive city.

In the meantime, I hope you will have the opportunity to enjoy a summer break with family and friends. Auckland really comes into its own over summer, thanks to our stunning beaches, parks and walkways and fantastic festivals and events.

Phil Goff is Mayor of Auckland. He writes a weekly Column in Indian Newslink.

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