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Councillors Consider Draft Annual Plan

16 March 2001

This week, Auckland City councillors and staff are concentrating their efforts on ensuring Auckland lives up to its status as New Zealand's greatest city.

The Draft Annual Plan is being scrutinised by members of the Council. Key decisions will be made on how the Council will spend the money it receives and the rates strike for next year. Councillors have said that real rates should effectively remain constant, with an adjustment to cover inflation of 2.5 per cent.

Councillor Kay McKelvie, Finance and Property Committee Chairperson, says the Council must be financially responsible while at the same time making sure there is investment in the things that add to the life of the city and continue to make it one of the best places in the world to live.

Councillor McKelvie says that as well as discussion on the funding for major projects, there is also funding set aside to support community facilities, provide community grants, develop youth initiatives, support pensioner housing, along with working in partnership with other organisations such as Safer Auckland City.

"Sometimes it is these small amounts that really do make a difference to individuals and we have to make sure those things receive due attention," she says.

"With regard to the big stuff, we have certainly got the message that something has to be done about our transport woes and I see it as a high priority that we enhance the public transport choice for Aucklanders.

"We have already devoted considerable attention and money towards the development of an effective transport solution – a combination of buses, light and heavy rail, ferries and roading."

A recent international survey ranked Auckland 7th in the world and 3rd in the Pacific for quality of living. Great news, but the same survey rates Auckland less well from the perspective of public transport and from an economic and business standpoint.

"The Council is aware of its responsibilities in both these observations. Consequently, we can't ignore things like the need for an indoor arena, or a convention centre, “ says Councillor McKelvie.

"The proposed indoor arena at Quay Park would be one more building block in the creation of a distinctive and vibrant city. It would work with all the other elements which make Auckland a really outstanding city - the Viaduct area, the superb harbours and the planned transport interchange at Queen Street Station - and keep Auckland an attractive place to live, work and invest in."

Another consideration is the need for the Council to factor in the cost of valuing our unique environment.

"One of the things which gives us huge advantage over other cities is our perceived clean green image. The Council is aware of the need to ensure that the image is more than just myth – that our image is based on reality.

"Like any other major city, we have problems dealing with the large amount of rubbish our residents produce and also in getting rid of our stormwater and wastewater in an acceptable way. It is not environmentally sustainable to expand landfills or to dump our rubbish in outlying regions."

In July all households will use a new 120 litre mobile garbage bin for rubbish, be provided with an expanded recycling programme and offered a form of garden rubbish collection system.

"The garden rubbish system will cost an additional $2.5 million to introduce, but the long-term gains for our environment are immeasurable and we know we are on the right track as the trial of the new rubbish and recycling system resulted in an average reduction of waste of 45 per cent."

In particular, many of the projects involve building something new and Councillor McKelvie says that like any business, the Council will have to borrow to fund these developments.

"Obviously there is a limit to how much it is prudent to borrow and we will be looking to the public to let us know what they think is important before the Council makes the final decision about the budget for the upcoming year."

Councillor McKelvie emphasises that public consultation on the Draft Annual Plan will play a big part in the final decision as to what Auckland City will spend ratepayers’ money on next financial year.

“We look forward to receiving public submissions and hope that given all the competing interests on the dollars available, we will be able to please most of the people most of the time."

Public consultation will begin on April 20 when the Draft Annual Plan goes out to community boards.

Budget items for the year 2001/2002 include:
* $77 million capital contribution to the Waitemata Waterfront Development.
* $5.8 million - asphalt resurfacing.
* $3.5 million - footpath resealing.
* $20 million - stormwater projects.
* $1 million - Wesley Community Centre.
* $2.3 million - Avondale Pensioner Housing.
* $450,000 - The Auckland Festival.


For further information, please contact:
Councillor Kay McKelvie, tel: 846 7076 or 025 279 6448.

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