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Lobby Group Puts Pressure On Council

(Apologies for any cross-postings)

WATER PRESSURE GROUP PRESS RELEASE 5 December 2007

Water Pressure Group Media Spokesperson Penny Bright has been granted
speaking rights at Auckland City Council's Finance and Corporate
Business Committee meeting, 15th Floor Auckland Civic Building Greys
Avenue, 10am Thursday 6 December 2007, (as has fellow public watchdog, Lisa Prager.)

" Now that Metrowater will no longer be used as a CA$H COW, to
subsidise rates - Auckland City Council Officers have apparently told
councillors any reduction in charitable payments would require either
rates rises, more borrowing or lower spending," says Ms Bright.

"Where are our hard-earned rates being spent now?

Mayoral candidate Lisa Prager exposed the Auckland City Council spending of
$93 million on consultants - $30 million on temps in the last three
years - but information confirming how many $millions are being wasted
on all the private snouts gorging themselves at the public trough
through the contracting out of Council services, was denied.

Why won't Council Officers tell the public?
It's OUR money! It's OUR business! We have a right to know."

It is alleged that,

"Reducing charitable payments altogether would lead to a rates
increase of 10.3% over and above other planned rate increases in
the next eight years.

Water bills would go up by 56% in that time to cover other rises in
Metrowater's costs, compared with 87% under the current policy."

"Based on WHAT?
Where are the facts and evidence to substantiate the accuracy of these
figures?
Who is providing them - who is checking them?

Where exactly is the public money being spent by Metrowater actually going?

Where exactly has the money which has been received by Metrowater
since 1997 actually gone?

Why would Council want to look at extending Metrowater's scope of work
to cover stormwater, when there has not yet been a full inquiry into
Metrowater's charging and practices for the provision of water and
wastewater services since 1997?

How can the public have confidence in the integrity of the Office of
the Auditor-General (OAG) to check either Metrowater or Auckland City
Council's books? "

It was the Local Government and Environment Select Committee in their
20 September 2007 Report, who slammed the planned $324 million
Metrowater 'charitable payments' to subsidise rates, after the OAG had
effectively 'rubberstamped' them.

It was not the OAG who uncovered or exposed the spending of $93
million on consultants, and $30 million on temps in the last three
years by Auckland City Council.

"It appears that the only effective public watchdogs are concerned
citizens who are prepared to 'blow the whistle till our eyeballs bleed.'

The powers of 'general competence' given to Councils under the Local
Government Act 2002, appear to have been replaced with general
blinding incompetence.

Some senior Council staff appear to run Auckland City as if it were
their own private corporation, denying the public our statutory right
to 'open, transparent and democratically accountable' local
government.

Enough!

It is time for a full inquiry into Metrowater's charging and practices.
It is time for Auckland City Council to open the books, and a
genuinely independent financial audit to investigate EXACTLY where our
hard-earned rates monies are going." Ms Bright concluded.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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