Complaint thrown out
July 18, 2002
Complaint thrown out
The Auditor General has thrown out a complaint over the Auckland City Council's consultation process on asset sales.
The lobby group Wake Up Auckland laid the complaint after the council decided to sell its pensioner flats and airport shares.
The group said the council did not carry out a proper consultation process on the sales.
Deputy Mayor David Hay said the council had gone to considerable lengths to make ratepayers aware of the issues and he was not surprised the Auditor General had thrown out the complaint.
"We took it very seriously when the Government announced on April 15 its intention to include a special provision in the Local Government Bill to make pensioner housing a "strategic asset" and we made sure our consultation process was up to scratch.
"In our draft annual plan we included four "statements of proposal" to sell residential housing, pensioner housing, Auckland International Airport shares and to transfer ownership and operation of Oneroa village wastewater assets to Metrowater”
Auditor General, Kevin Brady said while people could make submissions about their concerns over asset sales the council was not bound to act in accordance with the submissions.
David Hay said the council had acknowledged that most of the submissions were opposed to the sale of pensioner housing and agreed that council had a responsibility to see that the needy elderly were properly and comfortable housed.
But David Hay said they did not agree that it was necessary for council to own pensioner units for this to be achieved.
The Auckland City Council is talking with the Government to see if they are interested in buying the housing stock before proceeding with any sales.
David Hay says, housing the needy elderly is a national issue and one that central government is best equipped to deal with.
"In today's environment expectations are high and it is estimated that $80 million is needed to bring old units up to standard and to develop new units.
"Government is in a much better position to make this investment, as it would be funded by income tax, which is based on an individual's income. If ratepayers were required to make this investment it would come from rates, which have to be paid regardless of income," he said.
David Hay said the council was going to extraordinary lengths to protect the welfare of existing tenants by giving them lifetime tenure in a pensioner unit.
"A guarantee of a life time tenure is something that is not available to many residents and ratepayers.
"Although it is possible that if some units are considered to be sub-standard or unsuitable tenants might be relocated to another unit, this is no different to any individual, young or old who has to relocate when circumstances change," he said.
The Local Government Forum, Auckland Chamber of Commerce, and the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern), supported the proposed sale of pensioner housing.