Consolidated council plans handed to new Auckland Council

General News | 10/30/2010

A consolidated planning document for use by the new Auckland Council has been handed over by the Auckland Transition Agency (ATA).

The six-volume plan required under the Local Government (Tamaki Makaurau Amendment) Act 2009 is based on a consolidation of the 2009-2019 long term council community plans (LTCCPs) of the eight previous city, regional and district councils which cease to exist at the establishment of the Auckland Council. It can be accessed at www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/planningdocument.

In the foreword ATA Executive Chairman Mark Ford says that the preparation of the document “marks both an end and a beginning; the cessation of the old councils and the creation of a new one.”

He said: “We anticipate the planning document will be the starting point for much discussion, debate and – ultimately – decision-making by those individuals elected by Aucklanders to lead the governing body and its local boards from 1 November 2010.”

The activities, projects and priorities in the plan are based on a consolidation of those contained in previous plans from the following councils: Auckland City Council, Auckland Regional Council, Franklin District Council, Manukau City Council, North Shore City Council, Papakura District Council, Rodney District Council and Waitakere City Council.

Activities, projects and priorities collated from previous council plans are grouped in the following categories: community, lifestyle and culture, economic development, planning and regulation, environmental management, solid waste, water supply and wastewater, stormwater, transport, commercial and investment.

The previous councils were forecasting an average weighted rate increase of 6% for the 2011/2012 financial year.  The new rates projection in the Planning Document is 3.9% - a reduction of 2.1% on the previous average forecast.  This projection includes inflation at 3%.

The Auckland Council – which is established on Monday (Nov 1) – is expected to set its own spending priorities.

Among the factors influencing the rate projection in the Planning Document are:

  • Operating and capital expenditure commitments of the previous councils totalling around $2.6 billion. This is the largest factor in the rate projection and includes the flow-on cost impact of capital projects committed to by previous councils and being undertaken in 2010/2011.
  • The net impacts of transition – a net saving of $37m (inclusive of transition costs and savings, an efficiency target, IT expenses and factors such as the establishment of local boards).

Other factors impacting the financial projections in the Planning Document include council projects timed to coincide with the Rugby World Cup (for example, civic upgrade projects), weathertight homes provisions and lower costs of borrowing.

The Auckland Council is introducing lower regulatory fees and charges as a result of changes made during transition.  Fees in many categories – from dog registrations to hourly charge-outs for building inspections – are being standardised across the region and lowered.

Service improvements under the Auckland Council include three categories of service centres across the council area and banking arrangements with BNZ, KiwiBank and PostShop for improved ease of customer service. Aucklanders will pay less for their drinking water following the announcement of lower prices from Watercare.

The ATA has commissioned a separate report – Securing Efficiencies from the Reorganisation of Local Governance in Auckland – from economists Taylor Duignan Barry. This report identifies ways in which costs could be further reduced through efficiencies such as streamlined procurement, rationalised IT spend and other operational savings.

This report indicates potential and realised gross annual savings in the range of $175m to $195m which would equate to a rates saving of 10-11% in the 2015/2016 financial year in comparison with the situation if the amalgamation had not taken place.