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Auckland City's 2004 budget and policy confirmed

Auckland City's 2004 budget and policy confirmed

Auckland City councillors confirmed today their budget and spending policies for the 2004 financial year.

A special combined committee meeting of all eight council committees discussed and finalised the draft annual plan’s budget policy and other priorities for the financial year from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004. Council then adopted the annual plan.

Councillors considered public submissions on the 2004 Draft Annual Plan before making their decisions.

“Public’s views have been taken seriously with a number of major changes being added to the council’s annual plan being a direct result from online, written and verbal submissions,” says Councillor Douglas Armstrong, Auckland City Council’s Combined Committees chairperson.

Councillors decided, after listening to public submissions, to retain the current mobile library service and to provide funding in the 2003/2004 budget for a heritage/character overlay zone for the Ellerslie, Grey Lynn, Kingsland, Symonds Street, Valley Road, Mt Eden and St Heliers, with additional funding to the Mt Eden and St Heliers centre plans.

Funding changes form the draft annual plan to the final annual plan include: centre plan funding for Mt Eden and St Heliers $125,000 fund more effective mobile library service $52,000 develop child and family policy and implementation plan $30,000 fund greening the city policy $75,000 Cliff Road toilets upgrade project brought forward $100,000.

Councillor Armstrong says the incredible growth Auckland city is experiencing presents not only wonderful opportunities but also challenges.

“It is vital that the council invests in Auckland city’s infrastructure to meet the needs of this and future generations of residents and ratepayers. Confirming the annual plan establishes how the council intends to meet those needs during the period 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004 and how much it will cost to achieve it,” said Councillor Armstrong.

Auckland City will receive $418.7million in revenue in the 2004 financial year. Nearly seventy per cent ($289.6 million) of this will be from rates, with slightly more than half being paid by non-residential ratepayers. It intends to spend $399.8 million on operating expenses, such as keeping parks clean and tidy, street lighting and supporting community events. Auckland City intends to spend $211.8 million on costs associated with capital expenditure, the building or renewal of the council’s assets.

The annual plan provides ways to deal with the major issues facing Auckland city; transport, growth, streets and rates, these include: making progress on the Auckland city section of the region’s road and rail network. This includes working with Manukau City Council and Transit New Zealand on both the eastern corridor and connecting State Highway 20 through Mangere, Mt Roskill and to the north-western motorway; working with Transit New Zealand on upgrading spaghetti junction and Grafton gully; improving bus services; studying the central business district (CBD) roads and passenger transport and also completing Britomart and developing the surrounding downtown area improving the city’s infrastructure e.g. the stormwater network, improve the inner city waterfront, co-ordinating new development at Tamaki Edge and Mt Wellington in response to population growth and supporting economic development initiatives increasing spending on footpath upgrades, formulating new policy and increase spending to make streets in the CBD and suburban commercial centres more pedestrian-friendly and developing a policy to make urban streets more attractive limiting the total rates increase to the rate of inflation of 2.5 per cent.

The council will collect the 2.5 per cent increase by increasing the waste collection charge. It will also act on new rating legislation. To reduce the impact of the 2002 property revaluation on some residential ratepayers, the council will replace part of the value-based general rate with a uniform annual general charge and alter the amount of rates paid by non-residential ratepayers compared with residential ratepayers.

Councillor Armstrong said he was pleased that the rates increase is likely to be amongst the lowest in the economy and in addition all ratepayers would benefit significantly form the 10 per cent prompt payment discount from Metrowater.

The final annual plan will be published on 31 July 2003.

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