Auckland Councillor Mike Lee has vowed to vote against what he believes is an overly austere council budget that will be punishing for ordinary Aucklanders and community groups.
The Auckland Council has proposed a budget full of cuts and asset sales, designed to fill a $295 million fiscal hole. Waiheke Local Board members have been speaking with ratepayers at a series of community meetings about how to make their voices heard in public submissions on the proposed budget, which close on Tuesday 28 March. The meetings provide information and context ratepayers may need to make a submission, and an opportunity to question the board members about the situation.
Mike Lee joined the board at Ostend Hall on Tuesday evening to provide his perspective. Mike says the proposed budget is too severe for the problem it is supposed to fix. “It almost solely impacts on ordinary people and doesn’t impact on big corporate beneficiaries of the Super City. The cuts are not across the board, it is targeted at the community which is most unfortunate and reprehensible.”
Mike says other options haven’t been fully explored, public consolation seems rushed and cursory and the figures made public are incomplete – some columns in the public budget booklet don’t even add up properly. And there are plenty of head-scratcher decisions, like selling $2 billion worth of airport shares. The council shares are forecast to bring in $39 million when Auckland Airport recovers from the pandemic and returns to profit next year.
“[But that’s part of the] budget component of $98.95 million that includes more borrowing and, ironically, selling airport shares to pay down debt and reduce interest payments.”
• Paul Mitchell
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