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Majority Of Aucklanders Back Mayor’s Proposal To Lease Port

A Curia Market Research poll commissioned by the Office of the Mayor of Auckland has found strong support for his proposal to consult on leasing the port operations.

Excluding those who were undecided, 71 per cent support leasing the port operations for up to 35 years under a deal that would involve an upfront payment of several billion dollars, with Auckland Council retaining ownership of the port land, and port operations returning to the council at the end of the lease. Only 29 per cent were opposed.

“It is very encouraging to see that Aucklanders are receptive to some of the weighty recommendations that have gone into my preliminary proposal. I would urge the Budget Committee to keep an open mind when it comes time to decide which items should go to public consultation,” says Mayor Brown.

“This research serves as an initial indication of interest. We still have a full and thorough consultation process ahead of us. All Aucklanders will have access to the information they need to make an informed decision in due time.”

The poll also found support for the proposal to sell the council’s Auckland International Airport (AIAL) shares, valued at around $1.3 billion. Of those polled, 61 per cent support selling Auckland Council’s remaining airport shares if the proceeds are invested in a diversified fund. Only 29 per cent were opposed, and 10 per cent were unsure.

Additionally, participants backed the Mayor’s efforts to keep rates as low as possible, with 76 per cent supporting a reduction of services to keep rates below 10 per cent.

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The initial projected rates rise was 35 per cent over the next three years, if Auckland Council were to maintain the status quo.

“Even with continued financial restraint, significant rates increases have been baked-in by previous decisions and events beyond our control. The council has relied on borrowing money to bridge the gap between revenue and expenditure, and our large-scale investments have not generated high enough returns to cover the cost of owning them,” says Mayor Brown.

“We can’t keep going out to Aucklanders every year saying the same thing. Something has to change.”

The proposed Auckland Future Fund would be capitalised by the AIA shares and proceeds from leasing the port, to the value of $3-4 billion, which would go a long way in securing the region’s financial and physical resilience. Achieving a better return on investment would also help mitigate household rates rises.

In this scenario, the projected rates rise would be 19 per cent over the next three years – 7.5 per cent in year-one, 3.5 per cent in year-two, and 8 per cent in year-three – and remain at 3.5 per cent or lower for the following seven years of Auckland Council’s Long-Term Plan.

“My proposal aims keep rates as low as possible, while securing Auckland Council’s long-term financial position and making provision for climate change and other related risks,” says Mayor Brown.

The Budget Committee will determine what items from the preliminary mayoral proposal go to public consultation in February. The final 10-year Budget (Long-Term Plan) 2024-34 will be adopted in June.

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