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Planning for progress

AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL

MEDIA RELEASE

14 November 2005

Planning for progress

Auckland City is taking a long-term view to planning for the city over the next 10 years. What is essential for Auckland city is being analysed as the councillors begin to paint a picture of the future and the options for how to get there.

Councillor Vern Walsh, chairperson of the Finance and Corporate Business Committee says having that long-term destination helps councillors establish and clarify which priorities Auckland City will spend its limited resources on.

"We need to look at what opportunities we can seize to continue to improving the quality of the city. There's a big list of possibilities and we want to be able to offer ratepayers clear choices around these options and show the benefits and costs of them," Mr Walsh said.

To do this, priority activities and scenarios will be costed and the effects on ratepayers will be calculated. This information will go to the council's next direction-setting meeting in December.

Mr Walsh said Auckland City continued to view growth as a positive for the city because of the investment, jobs and scale it brought with it.

"However, funding the challenges posed by that growth is a key issue," he said.

"The council is exploring solutions that address the historic underinvestment in infrastructure and the need to fund the things that will help us reach our long-term destination."

Transport, creating more sophisticated lifestyle options and protecting the things that make Auckland unique such as heritage, volcanic cones and open spaces will be key components of the long-term plans.

"As the city grows, it is important to continue analysis of what we do and to what level we provide services. We also need to look at ways to work with other stakeholders to achieve the long-term outcomes.

"We can't do everything on our own," said Mr Walsh.

The city's draft rates policy discussed at last week's direction-setting meeting will be made available for public consultation. The proposals are consistent with existing policies and include:

- continuation of the general rate differential strategy

- retaining the uniform annual general charge of $95

- increasing the refuse collection charge to reflect rising costs unless alternative revenues sources can be found

- continuing the CBD targeted rate policy

- raising the general rate and the four targeted rates for transport, heritage and urban design, open spaces and volcanic cones and community development and affordable housing in line with the costs of doing business.

A new addition to the rates policy proposed at the annual direction-setting meeting was to bring forward the due dates for rates by one month (first instalment would be due on 20 August 2006) and move to four instalments (20 August, November, February, and May).

At the December direction-setting meeting the council will also consider detailed information on new funding options, including:

- improving the return on investments, particularly in Metrowater and the Auckland International Airport

- utilising the strategic asset fund

- possible increases in rates, fees and charges

- any increase in borrowing

- expanding contributions from developers to fund the increasing pressure on infrastructure.

"Prioritisation of what we do to achieve the long-term destination will require some difficult decisions and trade-offs but the primary focus being to deliver value for money for ratepayers," said Mr Walsh.

The draft long-term plans being discussed by the council will be released for the public's feedback in April 2006 and the final version will be published in June 2006.

ENDS

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