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Council proposes $3.7 billion investment in city

Auckland City Council
Media release

19 November 2008

Council proposes $3.7 billion investment in the city over next 10 years

Councillors met this week to discuss the proposed budget and priorities for the next 10 years.

The council is proposing to spend $3.7 billion on capital works over the next 10 years, including building and acquiring $1.5 billion of new assets for the city. This includes $505 million next year on projects across the city, our highest single-year spend to date

These budgets will now be written into the draft 10-year plan which is released for public consultation in April 2009. Following a month-long opportunity for feedback, the plan will be approved by councillors in late June.

Projects proposed for the next 10 years include the following.

• Quicker and more efficient bus travel for people with $22.9 million invested in the Central Connector, a busway between the CBD and Newmarket.

• The Auckland Art Gallery will be increased in size and its assets reinforced for future generations with a $59.7 million redevelopment.

• Libraries across the city will be upgraded and have collections refreshed with an $81 million investment.

• Residents and visitors will be able to visit, play in and enjoy $150 million of upgraded, developed and new parks, playgrounds, sports fields and sporting facilities including Grey Lynn Park, Arch Hill mountain bike trail and Great Barrier walkways.

• Visitors will be able to explore unique NZ land and sea creatures with $15.3 million put into the Te Wao Nui precinct at Auckland Zoo.

• Better, easier and more efficient access to and within Auckland’s eastern suburbs through wider travel choices and increased road capacity with a $344.9 million investment into AMETI.

• Aotea Square is being developed into a modern venue for major public events and everyday activity. The council is also carrying out essential repairs to the roof beneath the square to make it structurally sound as part of the overall $80 million investment from 2008/09 to 2010/11.

• Walking across Auckland will be safer and easier with $218.6 million of continued improvements over the next 10 years maintaining the safety and standards of footpaths across Auckland.

• Auckland is to have a new performing arts venue, with Auckland City Council contributing $9.6 million towards Q Theatre plus $400,000 per year for operating costs.

The council will be spending $2514 million over the next 10 years on its stormwater programme as the council continues to implement as part of its three key priorities which focus on water quality, flooding and growth.

By 2010, the harbour and eastern beaches will also benefit from reduced wastewater overflows as the new $120 million Hobson pipeline comes into operation following the removal of the existing above ground pipe across Hobson Bay.

Projects under way currently, and over the next 10 years, include the Lumsden Green stormwater upgrade which will help resolve the flooding issues in Newmarket and remedial works to closed landfill sites around Auckland city to improve water discharge quality to creeks, waterways and harbours.

Over the next three years there will also be a major upgrade of the drainage network in the Kingsland and Eden Terrace areas, including upper Mt Eden, Newton Gully and parts of Morningside. This upgrade, being undertaken by Clear Harbour Alliance, a partnership involving Metrowater and engineering companies GHD, Opus International Consultants and Downer EDI Works, represents a significant investment by Metrowater and Auckland City Council in improving drainage infrastructure and protecting the environment.

Auckland City Council is committed to being an efficient organisation and have reviewed all our operating costs. We have an established record of achieving one-off and ongoing savings, and we have included savings of over $230 million in operating costs and set efficiency gain targets in our 10-year plan starting at $4.6 million per year, increasing to $68 million per year.

Councillor Douglas Armstrong, chairperson of the Finance and Strategy Committee, says: “We have had to take a hard look at our activities over the next 10 years and what was promised by the last council. Of course, this means that some pet projects will be delayed and others may be cancelled. But it is about ordering priorities and balancing best benefits and value for money for the city

“It is a priority for this council to do the right things, and to do things right for the communities. We must decide what we spend their valued money on with the same respect as we spend our own. We have had to make some difficult and unpopular decisions, but that is what is required to lead a city.

“The people of Auckland city gave this council the opportunity to lead the city on the commitment of affordable progress. Our promise was to keep overall rates increases to the council’s level of inflation. Our focus is on giving Aucklanders value for money.

“There is no time more important to keep this promise than now. These are extraordinary times, we are facing a difficult economic future and have been caught up in global financial crisis.

“It is difficult to cut any projects and we sympathise with those who are missing out, but we have to look at what is essential and what is nice to have.

“This is the first draft of the plan – our ears and minds are open. There is a lot of debate, interaction and consultation to be done before it is finalised.

“Our overriding imperative is to keep the rates increase to five per cent, the council’s rate of inflation. This means we can change projects, but must keep the same level of expenditure overall.

”While we are making some cuts, we are also spending our biggest ever amount on capital projects in a single year - $505 million.

“We will also have a reduced level of debt compared with the levels projected in the 2006-2016 plan. This is as a result of the lower capital programme. The council’s debt will peak at $1.1 billion (2013/14) compared with a peak of $17 billion projected in the previous plan.”

The minutes from the meeting can be found at www.aucklandcity.govt.nz.

Ends

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