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Government Needs to Rein in Councils

Stephen Berry
ACT Candidate for Upper Harbour

9 July 2014

Government Needs to Rein in Councils

ACT Upper Harbour candidate Stephen Berry says the Government needs to take urgent action to rein in Council spending across the country. “The power of general competence granted to local councils in 2002 is leading to widespread incompetence with ratepayer dollars. This blatant waste is only too obvious at Auckland Council.”

Many are quick to blame the formation of the Super City for the financial mess Auckland Council has got itself into but Mr. Berry does not share this view. “The first people to blame the council amalgamation are the politicians engaged in the wildly irresponsible spending. Had Len Brown focused on properly funding the basics instead of egotistical legacy projects like the City Rail Loop, the Council would not be in the position it is now.”

“Auckland Council borrowed $1.2 billion in the last financial year. The interest the Council pays on its debt is over $1 million a day. Suggestions the Council needs to cut spending by $280 million a year will not even come halfway to solving the problem.”

Proposals for cutting spending which have been floated in the media this week include slashing library operating hours and reducing parks maintenance budgets to achieve this target. Stephen Berry responds, “Mayor Brown and his spin doctors are playing a sneaky and deceptive game. They’re putting forward options for spending cuts on popular services so they can soften up Auckland residents for greater rates increases. There is still no mention of cutting the City Rail Loop which is clearly the first place the Council should start.”

ACT has previously introduced legislation into Parliament that would limit Council rates increases to the level of inflation each year. “Unsurprisingly this was blocked by the parties of the left. New Zealand First also conveniently forgot about its usual target market of retirees, many of whom live in their own homes, struggling to pay increasing rates on a limited pension.” Berry says, “I would like to see such legislation re-introduced to Parliament following the 2014 election, in addition to reforming the Local Government Act so councils are limited to only basic functions determined by central government.”

Stephen Berry was the third placed candidate for Mayor of Auckland in the 2013 election and campaigned on a platform of reductions in rates, spending and borrowing. However this time around he is not seeking votes for himself. “Aside from making submissions on the Council’s 10 year plan, the most powerful thing Auckland residents can do to restrict the excesses of Mayor Brown is to cast their party vote for ACT.”

ENDS

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