Wednesday, 1st July, 2015

The big Auckland Council rate increases that kick in from today will be a constant reminder on why a line-by-line review of Auckland Council services and costs is needed.

Michael Barnett, head of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, said that when the long-term plan consultation process began 18 months ago, the Auckland Chamber with others called on Council and its CCO’s to interrogate its operating costs line-by-line. “We urged a searching review of costs focusing on staff levels, planning and services that could be delivered more efficiently by the private sector and community groups.”

“Plainly, it hasn’t happened. The resulting 10 per cent rate rise is inexcusable.
“Aucklanders deserve a Council that treats rate payers as core customers, not a council content to feed its financial hunger out of the ratepayer purse – that is a lazy option.”

The Chamber recommended Council:

  • Conduct an open review of all services and costs to determine whether they represent value for money and contribute to council’s efficiency and best practice.
  • Explore partnerships with the private sector and community groups to take on services that would reduce costs to rate payers.
  • Seek recovery of social service costs it is assuming from central Government and should not be.

“With Councillors and many ratepayers, now more fully aware of the growth in Council’s costs and calling for a review, this should be pursued with vigour and urgency,” said Mr Barnett.

Instead it is competing with business in a number of areas; e.g. the monopoly service that the Regional Facilities Auckland CCO (RFA) has contracted to run Council-owned venues and facilities. It is also signalling that they intend to continue to compete rather than partner and help grow already established local businesses. For example, Auckland Transport is tendering for establishing a car share business, even though a service already exists.

“I am convinced a transparent line-by-line review of Council’s services would reveal potential for big savings. It would also provide needed evidence that Council’s leadership is committed to budgetary discipline and keeping promises with rate payers. It would be foolish for Councillors to not lead this proposal,” concluded Mr Barnett.

For more information contact Michael Barnett, mobile: 0275 631 150.
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce.