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Purchase of 135 Albert Street - response to Andrew Williams

[Response to press release from New Zealand First MP Andrew Williams Hefty Auckland Rates Hikes to Pay for New Council HQ]

Andrew Williams' press release, dated 24 August, about Auckland Council’s purchase of 135 Albert Street contains a number of inaccuracies.

Auckland Council paid $104 million for 135 Albert Street, and plans to spend $24.5 million on fitout and an additional $28.9 million on capital costs over the next ten years. The combined cost is $157.4 million, not $200 million as Mr Williams claims.

The purchase of 135 Albert Street had lowest cost of the five options council considered, including retaining our current accommodation. This purchase will save ratepayers $102 million over the next 20 years, compared to remaining in several mostly rented buildings in central Auckland.

The decision to acquire 135 Albert Street came after a detailed discussion with the council’s Strategy and Finance Committee on 16 December 2011. The committee gave our chief executive, Doug McKay, the authority to acquire the building if it led to operational and financial savings. Mr McKay confirmed with councillors on 2 August 2012 that the acquisition would save ratepayers significant costs.

All relevant financial details were disclosed and are available on our website:
http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/aboutcouncil/committees/strategyfinancecommittee/meetings/strategyandfinanceagitem10to1520120802.pdf.

Following the Strategy and Finance Committee’s approval in December 2011, Auckland Council included the revised accommodation capital and operating costs in the draft Long-term Plan, which was released for public consultation in February this year. The planned purchase was within the council’s delegated financial authority, and did not require additional funds above the budgeted accommodation costs.


ENDS

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