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Complaint To Auditor General Over Housing Budget

For Immediate Release Sunday 16 December 2007

Complaint To Auditor General Over Council’s Slashing Of Affordable Housing Budget

The Office of the Auditor General has been asked to review the legality of the decision by Auckland City Council to slash its affordable housing budget. At its meeting on Thursday, the council resolved by majority vote to reduce the $9 million contract with the New Zealand Housing Foundation to $2.5 million.

Cr Cathy Casey has made the complaint because she believes that the inclusion of the affordable housing project in the Long Term Council Community Plan should afford it protection from such a cut.

“The Local Government Act requires Auckland City Council to produce a 10-year Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) plan showing what the council does and how it will work towards achieving what the community wants in the future. The final LTCCP is approved only after extensive consultation with Auckland ratepayers – a total of 873 submissions were received.

The affordable housing project was approved through that LTCCP process.
The Auckland public said they were supportive of council’s efforts to address the affordable housing crisis. A targeted rate for community development and housing was struck in July 2005 allocating $1 million a year to the project. A total of $9 million was to be invested.”

“After such extensive consultation, I don’t believe that the council can cut the budget to affordable housing by 75% through a majority vote at a meeting. I think we are in breach of our own “significance policy” contained within the LTCCP which sets rules around our financial decision-making and making changes to those decisions.

“I believe that the decision to slash the affordable housing budget breaches several of those rules:

• The decision cuts the expenditure on an output by more than 25 per cent (the cut to the affordable housing budget is 75 per cent)

• The decision significantly alters the intended level of service provision (the council would be unable increase the stock of affordable housing by 100 houses over the next four years)

“John Banks and his new council have ridden roughshod over the LTCCP by cutting the affordable housing project budget by 75% simply because they oppose it politically. If it is so easy to change council’s long-term financial plans, one can only wonder about the safety of our remaining airport shares.”


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