With the winter weather upon us, it’s only natural to turn our attention to flooding mitigation. The good news
is that we have budget for Council staff to work with residents’ groups along Tamaki Dr to help select options to reduce the effects of both king tides and bad weather. This is particularly important in Kohimarama and the causeway outside the Outboard Boating Club.
The bad news is that the Portland Rd flooding work has been delayed, as staff still look at detailed designs for raising the bottom of Portland Rd beside Waitaramoa Reserve. What we can all do to help is check roadside gutters for leaf build-up, especially by catchpits. If you can’t clear this yourself, please call Council on (09) 301 0101 and register an urgent clear.
Talking about budget, council has signed off its last budget before the upcoming election. This has an average of 2.5 per cent rates rise for the year beginning July 1. To put this rates increase into perspective: this year Hamilton had a 9.7 per cent rise, Dunedin 7.8 per cent, Tauranga 5.8 per cent, Christchurch 5.72 per cent and Wellington 3.8 per cent.
As you will be aware, we asked Aucklanders what they thought of several new initiatives in the budget. Interestingly, the response from our Ōrākei ward matched the Auckland regional responses.
My election promise in 2016 was to vote as per the feedback from you, the residents and ratepayers of the ward. Democracy must work. In my opinion, if you’re not willing to follow the direction from that feedback, why ask in the first place? I have not veered from that position this whole electoral term. My vote around the budget decision was no different. Whilst this is not the view of all councillors, it’s certainly mine.
Ōrākei respondents voiced their support for money to go towards addressing homelessness and for a new rates remission for religious properties. They voiced their opposition to proposed increases to the waste management targeted rate, and an increase in consenting fees. Many of those who responded expressed their anger at how the consent process currently works (slowly and inefficiently was a common response) and were worried that increases to already expensive consenting costs would disincentivise building. On top of this was the concern that ever-climbing resource and building consent fees could further worsen home affordability across Auckland by driving up the cost of construction. It’s an area staff have been directed to improve with haste.
I also voted to keep a strong focus on being more efficient and meeting our savings targets. By leveraging the council group’s size to drive down procurement costs and consolidate suppliers, we have recently slashed our annual utilities bill by $5.3 million. That’s on top of another strong annual budget operational saving target of
$23m. In fact, the Super City, for all its new population growth and record levels of investment, is now staggeringly operating on $270m less per annum than it did prior to amalgamation. But trust me, we can still do better.
Coming up soon are some decisions that will be both controversial and important for us. The new freedom camping bylaw is one. I’m not on the regulatory committee and my only vote to date has been to take this out for consultation. However, the draft bylaw currently proposes that many of our parks and potentially every residential street in Auckland could be opened up for freedom camping.
This is a huge concern for me (and I’d think for you too). I am also told that the hearings panel have not always followed community feedback which rejected certain parks and areas within this ward for freedom camping. The vote by the mayor and all councillors on this will be crucial.
Finally, I have decided to put my hand up and stand again for the position of Auckland councillor representing the Ōrākei ward in the forthcoming October elections. With the boundary changes now bringing in Parnell, Newmarket, and Grafton into the ward, I officially made this public last month. I hope to have your support, and welcome any feedback you have on how Council can improve.