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Filling The Fiscal Hole

Auckland Council needs to do what any pragmatic business fighting for its livelihood would do and reassess and rethink how and what it does to dig ratepayers out of the billion-dollar fiscal hole, says Auckland Business Chamber CEO, Michael Barnett.

“Council is no different from a business and rather than snipping at the edges looking at what they cannot or will not be doing because of the gaping shortfall in revenues from the impact of Covid, they should focus on what they can do differently and what someone else could do better and more cost effectively so that services are not deferred or lost in the scramble to hold down debt levels and retain jobs.”

“They have a bulging asset portfolio that would be attractive to private sector investors and operators, including the port and airport. They can look at the leisure, event and visitor sector and identify who and what could be delivered more cheaply and more effectively while still earning money for the city,” he said. “And they need to get into a fresh mindset where private, public partnerships can indeed be in the best interest of Auckland rather than abandoning progress and reading us a list of deferred roading, public transport, amenity and ratepayer needed improvement projects.”

Mr Barnett said borrowing even with low interest rates will not solve the budget dilemma long term nor Auckland’s need to continue to invest to deal with a rising population and role as the engine room of New Zealand’s economy.

“Council needs to lead and act like a business that has to earn its way in the world and prove its worth every day. It needs to organise resources around delivering core services brilliantly and efficiently rather than doing the same as always, still carrying a huge workforce, still wanting to do everything themselves apart from privatising or partnership on a few selected services, shoring up a hierarchical, bureaucratic structure that impedes speed and agility and hitting pause or slash or less on services and amenities the city needs.”

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