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Long-term vision in focus for council

9 March 2006

Long-term vision in focus for council

A vision for how Auckland will look and feel in 20 to 30 years was clear in the minds of Auckland City Councillors when they met this week to discuss the budget and 10 year plans for the city.

Councillor Vern Walsh, chairperson of the Finance and Corporate Business Committee says that having a long-term vision and setting the right course to achieve it is essential for any successful city.

"Our vision aims to maximise the natural advantages of Auckland. These are its volcanic cones, its coasts, islands and harbours and the unique opportunities they offer," said Mr Walsh.

"There is an ever increasing demand to provide a city that enables people to take advantage of those opportunities and choose the lifestyle they want.

"Knowing where we want to be in 20 to 30 years time helps us prioritise what we need to do in the city over the next 10 years to give people those choices or enable those opportunities," said Mr Walsh.

"Realising our vision will take significant investment and will require rates increases.

"We have been presented with a long list of proposals that would take $4 billion to achieve, so we are endeavouring to strike a balance between funding the things that need to be done and people's ability to pay their rates."

The long-term vision and the activities and budget will be available for people's feedback from 19 April to 19 May, before the plans are finalised in June.

Key points in the long-term plans are:

* council's existing services will continue to be delivered with rates increases kept within the rate of inflation over the next 10 years

* the refuse charge will increase from $131 to $161 to ensure full cost recovery of a comprehensive service that encourages waste minimisation and allows for the implementation of initiatives to reduce waste landfill

* four development options for the city (options B to E) are being proposed for public feedback. Each option contains the same core projects and additional different projects. The impact on rates over 10 years has been costed for each option over and above the cost of inflation

* option A is the status quo and contains projects that are already budgeted for, therefore, this option will not require any rates increase over inflation.

Option B will require an 8.6 per cent increase in rates, option C will require a 21.4 per cent increase in rates, option D will require a 31.3 per cent increase in rates and option E will require a 26.3 per cent increase in rates, over 10 years.

"The council has a significant role to play in leading the development of the city," said Mr Walsh.

"With that responsibility will come the need for the council to fund investment in the city over and above what is already budgeted for."

The council will spend $7.4 billion over the next 10 years on providing existing services and maintaining our current assets but there is no capacity in those budgets to fund new services or assets.

It is proposed that the additional funding required for options B to E could come from both increases in the targeted rates and a new development targeted rate which would be ring-fenced for specific projects in the option packages.

As part of the council's efforts to make rates go further, other funding options have been proposed in addition to rates, including increasing debt, using the strategic asset fund, restructuring the council's airport shares, central government subsidies, and increasing development contributions.

Increased charitable payments from Metrowater have been proposed to fund stormwater infrastructure in the city. This would require Metrowater to increase charges to customers by one per cent from 2006 to 2014 and by 2.5 per cent from then until 2025.

"Investment in the city's stormwater infrastructure is much needed to improve the water quality in our harbours and streams, in addition to dealing with flooding and the impacts of growth," said Mr Walsh.

"It will mean that part of the general rates that currently goes into stormwater can be used on other priorities in the city," he said.

The proposed 10 year budget and options for the city will be available for public feedback from 19 April at www.aucklandcity.govt.nz and at all libraries and service centres from 21 March.

ENDS

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