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Council agrees $20 million more for action plan


Council agrees $20 million more for action plan

A $20 million funding boost to address major issues facing Auckland was adopted by Auckland City’s combined committees today.

The meeting discussed and finalised Auckland City’s budget and other priorities for the financial year from 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006, including a 9.7 per cent rates increase to fund the introduction of four new targeted rates.

The Mayor of Auckland City, Dick Hubbard, says the rates increase is a much-needed revenue boost that will accelerate priority projects.

“It is vital that the council invests in key issues facing Auckland city to better meet the needs of this and future generations of Aucklanders. We must take action and invest in the city today to future-proof our infrastructure and valued communities for tomorrow.

“Our action plan makes the most of the challenges and opportunities from being a growing and dynamic city. I got the clear message that Aucklanders want action in critical areas that we have identified and this annual plan delivers just that to the people of Auckland,” he says.

“We have highlighted growth, transport, urban design and heritage, open space, and community development as areas that need the most focus.
We plan to inject an extra $60 million over the next three years to address the much-needed investment in these areas. ” Councillor Vern Walsh, chairperson of the combined committees meeting says, “Confirming the annual plan establishes how the council intends to address these priorities and how much it will cost to achieve it.

“We believe this is the best step forward for the city. None of us like increasing rates but this is necessary to set the direction for the coming years and get the city moving. We have made promises about where the funds will be spent so Aucklanders can be assured that we will deliver on our promises.

“Ratepayers can also be assured that we are continuing to vigorously investigate other revenue sources to minimise future rates increases, while also monitoring all of the council’s activities to ensure we operate at optimum efficiency.”

The 9.7 per cent rates increase will fund inflation (2.7 per cent), along with four targeted rates: transport, which will increase transport spending by $14.1 million per year to accelerate passenger transport and roading projects open spaces and volcanic cones, which will inject $2.8 million per year into the purchase of new parks and reserves, and progress targeted projects such as the protection and enhancement of Mt Eden heritage and urban design, generating $1.4 million (plus an extra $523,000 over and above the targeted rate). This will drive action on key initiatives to encourage good urban design identified by the Mayoral Taskforce along with funding a week-long celebration of the city’s heritage community development and housing, providing dedicated funding to develop and implement initiatives to help communities to flourish, and to investigate partnerships with relevant organisations to increase the amount of affordable housing around the city.

“Along with targeted rates that are ring-fenced to address the city’s big issues, we have halved the uniform annual general charge to $95 to more fairly balance rates bills across the city,” says Mr Walsh.

“We also have put processes in place to look after our ratepayers who struggle to pay their rates bills. Our new $850,000 rates assistance scheme will allow us to top-up rates bills for those on low fixed incomes,” he says.

The mayor and councillors considered public submissions on the Draft Annual Plan 2005/2006 before making their decisions and adopting the Final Annual Plan.

Decisions made today include: progress the Aotea Square upgrade and the Civic underground carpark repair project, with an initial investment of $6.4 million boost funding for urban design initiatives, with an extra $523,000 for projects identified by the Mayoral Taskforce on Urban Design fairly address the costs of waste collection by abolishing Waiheke Island’s refuse transfer station targeted rate, and increasing the general waste collection targeted rate by $2, from $129 to $131 introduce a pool of funds to the value of $500,000 to retain and grow major events review the fees charged for building and resource consents to better meet increasing costs of providing these services. The committee agreed to increase building consent costs by 18 per cent. introduce a new development contributions policy, which allows a fairer contribution from developers when funding the city’s growing infrastructure.

These initiatives will be published in Auckland City’s Final Annual Plan, released on 31 July 2005.

Ends

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