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Do You Know What Auckland Council Is Planning For Sport And Recreation In Your Community?

Community sport, recreation, play and physical activity connect Auckland and Aucklanders, providing a range of benefits for our region. That’s why it’s imperative that sport and recreation is appropriately acknowledged in Auckland Council’s 10-year Budget 2021-2031.

So, for the sake of all Aucklanders, our current generation of young people, and generations to come, we need your help to have your voice heard. You can do this by making a submission to Auckland Council during the consultation period – this is the main opportunity for people who care about sport and recreation to have their say in council decision-making.

This document outlines: what the 10-year Budget is; key sport and recreation points to help you craft your submission; how to make a submission; and ways to have your say on Auckland Council’s 10-year Budget 2021-2031.

What is Auckland Council’s 10-year Budget 2021-2031?

The Long-term Plan (LTP) is Auckland Council’s 10-year budget. It is reviewed every three years and, while it includes a 10-year forecast of funding and projects, the focus is on the first three years with the outer years subject to review at the end of the three-year period.

The LTP sets out the activities, services and investments planned for the next 10 years. Essentially it’s the mechanism by which Council sets rates and determines how ratepayer money will be spent, which is why the Council must consult on any significant decisions that they are proposing to implement through the LTP.

The Council’s finances are also reviewed annually in the two years following the LTP and this is known as the Annual Plan.

Auckland Council is currently consulting on the proposed LTP 2021-2031. The consultation period commenced on 22 February 2021 and closes on 22 March 2021.

There are a number of topics that the Council is seeking feedback on, as well as Local Board priorities that may be of local interest.

What is being proposed?

For the 10-year period 2021-2031 the Council is proposing a capital investment programme of around $31 billion. The Council advises that this compares to around $26 billion included in the previous 10-year budget.

This proposal will require higher rates and debt to enable service levels to be improved over time. The Council refers to the budget as a “recovery budget” in response to COVID-19 and is proposing a package of financial responses that will enable capital investment averaging $2.9 billion for the next three years. The proposed budget will see the Council deliver up to $900 million more investment in the next three years enabled by higher rates and debt as well as savings and asset disposal.

Without higher rates and debt, the Council advises that the capital programme would need to be reduced to a highly constrained level averaging $2.6 billion over the next three years.

In the Parks and Community space $739 million capex is proposed over three years, with an additional $65 million of additional funding proposed with the higher rates and borrowing.

The primary focus of the LTP and LTP consultation is on matters which do not directly relate to the sports and recreation sector – however, the LTP is an opportunity for all groups to make submissions outside of the primary questions being asked by the Council.

How can we get involved?

Councils are required to carry out consultation before adopting the LTP. This provides them with important feedback on future direction and priorities. During the consultation period, the public can make submissions. After considering submissions, the final LTP is adopted by the Council at the start of the financial year (1 July).

We need to ensure all Aucklanders regardless of age, ethnicity and ability can participate in sport, recreation or physical ability in fit for purpose facilities and spaces to enable them to live active, healthy lives.

How can we make a submission?

While numbers count in politics, it’s persuasion that influences decisions – that’s why it’s essential for Council to have tailored submissions, not templates.

If you’re a sport organisation or club, well prepared and widely supported public submissions make a difference. Workshop your ideas with others, outline why they’re important, be positive and succinct, and encourage others to have their say. Here are some tips:

  • Be clear: clearly state your topic and concerns – ideally reference where it fits in the LTP if you can. Headings and/or bullet points can help
  • Examples: provide evidence of a need that is quantified and verifiable
  • Benefits: outline the benefits to your area, sport, community
  • Community connection: make sure you emphasise how your thinking will benefit the wider community
  • Call to action: tell Council what decision you want them to make.

As an individual – whether you’re a coach, manager, referee, parent or participant – pick something that’s relevant and important to you (it can be a single aspect), don’t cut and paste, and use your own words.

All submissions will be coded and reviewed by Council staff who draft summary reports to local boards and the Governing Body (the Councillors) to enable them to understand the community’s views on the questions being asked and other important issues. The major questions are the primary focus of the responses, however, a consistent theme from multiple submissions is likely to be picked up as an important community issue. Submissions are then sent to the relevant Council Department for their response to the issues raised.

Many of the documents in the submission process direct respondents to respond within the parameters of the primary questions. This is not mandatory, and submitters may choose to answer none, some, or all of the questions asked. As such, you do not have to form a position on rate rises or targeted rates should you not wish to do so. 

The online and hard copy forms end with an opportunity to set out “What is important to you” – Do you have feedback on any other issues?” This section is where those associated with the sport and recreation sector can make their submission. It is recommended that submissions are made through the online form, however this not mandatory.

Given the volume of submissions received by the Council the most effective submissions are clear, short and to the point. There is also value in the sector providing consistent messaging. Furthermore, it is always worth acknowledging the existing funding commitment by Auckland Council, the great work that they do in the sport and recreation sector space and highlighting any success stories you have identified.

Messages to consider

We strongly recommend that you review the LTP documents based on your situation and, where appropriate, strategic priorities. Some Local Board projects are also within the Local Board Advocacy section and should be reviewed for consideration.

From Aktive’s review of the LTP documents the following are a number of themes the sector may wish to use for developing the key messages of their submission:

  1. Increasing rates and borrowing limits - Auckland Council is proposing to increase rates and borrowing limits to continue to invest in Auckland. It has developed a “response plan” instead of an “austerity plan”, proposing a programme of ongoing investment even if the quantum falls well short of what many people would wish for. The ability to increase rates and borrowing allows the Council to increase its investment – without it the situation would be significantly worse. While it might not be appropriate to support increased rates and borrowing, the outcome of the Council being able to increase its total spend and thereby its budgets has positive impacts for the sport and recreation sector.
  2. The importance of physical activity remains - While COVID-19 has had a massive impact on the Council’s fiscal position, the issues around obesity and an inactive population in Auckland remain. Investing in sport and recreation is a core role for Auckland Council and provides the health, social, mental, cultural and economic outcomes sought by the Auckland Plan. We know from sector discussions that COVID-19 has had a major impact on our clubs with many experiencing a loss of club members which has not yet bounced back. This trend must be reversed or Auckland’s activity levels will remain well below the levels that they should be or continue to decline.
  3. Thanks Auckland Council and keep investing! The 10-year $120 million Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund is currently funded . It is worth acknowledging the Council’s investment in facilities through this fund, however it is still a significant shortfall of the estimated $500 million needed over the next 10 years.
  4. Expand the Operating Grant- Auckland Council’s $1 million Regional Sport and Recreation Facilities Operating Grant 2020/2021 is currently funded. However, the level of this fund is well below what is needed in the sector and it is anticipated that the contestable fund will be significantly over subscribed. The fund closes before the consultation closes so it might not be possible to put an actual number around the quantum of application requests – however there is value in directing the elected members to investigate this further by seeking officer advice and to request that consideration be given to increasing the fund to a more realistic figure to have a genuine impact on facilities across Tāmaki Makaurau.
  5. More investment is required in Operating Expenditure - While Auckland Council continues to build facilities, there is an ongoing need to also include budget for operational costs to ensure the facilities are appropriately maintained and managed. The Council’s focus is on capital investment, often leaving opex costs to facility users such as clubs. These users may struggle to manage the operational side of facilities, therefore impacting the quality and condition of the with capex implications.
  6. Moving away from an asset-based delivery? - The Council is looking to divest aging assets that are no longer fit for purpose and “maintain the same service levels for our communities, just delivered differently”. It is very unclear which assets are to be divested (i.e. sold) or how the new approach to move away from an asset-based approach to alternative ways of delivering services is to be funded or achieved. Selling off community assets has the capacity to impact on sports and recreation delivery at a local level and undermine the wider regional network.
  7. Ongoing selling or leasing of property - The Council is proposing to fund investment through a programme to sell or lease surplus properties $70 million a year over the next three years. It is not clear which properties have been identified for this process and what impact this might have on the sector.
  8. Increasing active recreation opportunities - In the City Centre and Local Development space there is funding to commence for stage one of the Te Hā Noa Victoria Street linear park (to align with the City Rail Link opening) which will provide active and passive recreation opportunities for city residents and workers. There is also budget for Downtown Infrastructure Development Programme which is improving the pedestrian experience and creating important new public spaces.
  9. What is the impact of significant staffing reductions? - Since the impact of COVID-19, Auckland Council has reduced its staff numbers by more than a thousand employees and terminated the majority of contractors. There is a real concern (including among Local Boards) that Auckland Council is not resourced to deliver the capital projects it has budgeted for. The Council is already reducing the level of capital investment in the next three years and the impact of this might be exacerbated by an inability to deliver. The elected members should be reminded that non-delivery of projects will worsen an existing lack of investment.
  10. Increasing walking and cycleways - Active transport has $153 million over three years for urban cycleways, the walking and cycling programme, minor cycling and micromobility capital projects (such as pop-up cycleways).
  11. Improved water quality and opportunities for water-based activity? - One of the primary questions in the consultation is around an extension to the existing Water Quality Targeted Rate which is proposed to be extended from 2028 to 2031. This will allow critical sewage/ stormwater separation projects in the eastern bays area to be brought forward to 2022/ 2023 to improve water quality in the Manukau Harbour, Tāmaki Estuary and along the beaches between Parnell and Glendowie. While it might not be necessary or appropriate to support the mechanism of this approach (i.e. extending a targeted rate) a proposal will allow greater, more regular and safer use of the popular eastern bays beaches which in turn will significantly improve opportunities for people to be active, particularly in water based activities.

How can I have my say?

Public consultation on Auckland Council’s 10-year Budget runs from 22 February 2021 to 22 March 2021, and there are a number of ways you can make your voice heard:

Events: There are a series of local “Have your Say” events across the region which are usually organised through the Local Boards. They may be standalone events or piggyback off existing Council organised events e.g. a community market.

It is mandatory that Governing Body Members and Local Board Members attend these events as people have a right to speak to and be heard by their elected members directly. Formats that may be used include a round table event or a more formal town hall-style event.

These events provide a forum for the community and elected members to interact to hear the concerns and aspirations of the community. It is strongly recommended to attend some of these events. If you need an interpreter and/or you would like to submit feedback in New Zealand Sign Language or in Te Reo Māori, please contact Council.

Online: You can provide feedback using the AK Have Your Say feedback form.

Webinars: For this LTP the Council is also proposing a series of online webinars including a Community Investment Webinar on Monday 8 March 7pm - 8.30pm.

Social media: Comments made through these channels will be considered written feedback:

By email: You can complete the AK Have Your Say feedback form and email it to akhaveyoursay@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.

By post: You can complete the AK Have Your Say feedback form and send it freepost to:

Auckland Council
Freepost Private Bag 92300
Victoria Street West
Auckland 1142

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