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Billions More For Environment And Climate In Mayor Goff’s Auckland Recovery Budget

Billions more will be invested in vital environmental and water infrastructure, transport, and parks and community facilities under Auckland Mayor Phil Goff’s proposed Recovery Budget, released today.

If adopted, it will be the single largest infrastructure package in the city’s history, injecting an extra $5.6 billion into transport, housing and the environment to take the total investment to $31.8 billion, a 21 per cent increase on the previous budget.

Mayor Goff says the investment will accelerate the city’s COVID-19 recovery by stimulating the economy, creating jobs, and providing the infrastructure needed to tackle long-term challenges.

“This is a Recovery Budget that will help Auckland and New Zealand pull out of the COVID-19 crisis while addressing transport and traffic congestion, sustaining and enhancing the environment, improving water quality and the resilience of our water supply, building more infrastructure for housing and tackling the threats posed by climate change,” he says.

“Our proposed package of new climate action adds a further $152 million over 10 years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impact of climate change. Independent polling by Colmar Brunton and council consultation showed strong public backing for this increased investment, with 60 per cent and 61 per cent of respondents respectively supporting it.

“We are proposing to increase capital investment by 21 per cent over the previous budget, with a $4 billion boost for water, wastewater and stormwater; and $900 million more for parks and community facilities.

“Funding for capital projects is increased by $900 million in the first three years to maintain our pipeline of planned work and bring forward important infrastructure projects that will stimulate recovery from the economic downturn.

“While we are increasing investment where necessary, we are also keeping rates rises fair and reasonable. The long-term annual average general rates increase will remain at 3.5 per cent, with a one-off 5 per cent increase for next year.

“This amounts to an extra 73 cents a week next year for the average-value property compared to the planned 3.5 per cent rise.

“Without this increase, we would not be able to bring forward hundreds of millions of dollars of capital investment that was delayed by revenue reduction caused by COVID.

“There would also be less investment in transport projects in local board areas, park and ride facilities and walking and cycling; reductions to library and art collections; and a delay to the standardisation of the kerbside waste collection services. The 5 per cent increase also allows us to restore the Local Board Transport Capital Fund, which local boards strongly value.

“In our Colmar Brunton survey of more than 4000 Aucklanders which was part of our consultation process, the budget measures were supported by 46 per cent of Aucklanders and not supported by 37 per cent. It is unusual for people to support increased rates but I think they were aware of the impact of COVID-19 on our finances and the fact that other growth cities in New Zealand were putting up much greater increases, some in double figures.

“This proposed budget finds a balance between a projected income loss of three-quarters of a billion dollars due to COVID, while ensuring that we maintain the investment necessary to stimulate recovery and make progress build a world-class city.

“Some will say we have gone too far with our rates increase, while others will call for even higher rises. However, I believe we have found the right middle ground which does not overburden the ratepayers but also ensures progress can be made.

“This is a Recovery Budget that will keep Auckland moving.”

Finance and Performance Committee Chair Desley Simpson says, “Following on from our Emergency Budget and the need for council to manage our finances prudently, especially in the wake of COVID-19, we have committed the organisation to find savings and efficiencies across the business to the tune of $90 million. That amounts to the second-highest savings target since Auckland Council's amalgamation and is equivalent to around the entire rates take for the Henderson-Massey Local Board area / Devonport-Takapuna Local Board area.

"In this 10-year Budget, we will also address issues that Aucklanders overwhelmingly support us on, like improving our water quality. Through the extension and increase of the Water Quality Targeted Rate we plan to increase investment in every local board area.

“The additional funding will also enable us to bring forward work programmes by six years that will address two of the worst-hit areas – the Manukau Harbour and the eastern isthmus of the Waitematā Harbour including the beaches from Parnell to Glendowie and the Tāmaki Estuary.”

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