Posted on July 30, 2015
Whether or not Aucklanders were adequately consulted on Council’s 10-year budget, the Long Term Plan, was the subject of considerable discussion with the Auditor General at the now infamous one-vote-majority approval meeting in June.
At yesterday’s Council Audit & Risk Committee, her full report was tabled. In it she was as critical as she can be that, actually, the consultation was not delivered as the law intends.
She made nine recommendations (on page 18) and eight of them referred to areas where Auckland Council’s LTP process was “deficient” according to the three standards she uses. She said council should fix these things within 6 months.
On the specific issues of the Consultation Document, she found that the Household Summary did not meet the legal standard for consultation.
She said that the law contemplates that a Consultation Document (the “CD”) should outline all the relevant budget information and be the “main mechanism provided or made available to ratepayers”. She said that a summary Consultation Document document, such as the Household Summary council actually produced and sent to all households, was not contemplated by the law. She said in future the full Consultation Document should be the key document used.
Why is this relevant? Well a key issue concerns the transport targeted rate and whether the thirteen words on page 9 of the 18 page Household Summary which said “…a targeted rate may also be required for 2015/2016″ was enough consultation to justify the $116 charge all Aucklanders will pay for the next THREE years.
But if the 64 page Consultation Document had been sent to all households, I’m not sure this would have helped. On page 45 it talks about a fixed charge of $58.99 per property, but this wasn’t what ended up being approved – and who is going to wade through 64 pages of council material.
The reason the vote on the budget got so close is mainly because either the Mayor wasn’t intending to implement a transport rate when he approved it (and councillors knew it hadn’t been properly considered/consulted) or he didn’t want to be upfront about it (and councillors knew it hadn’t been properly considered/consulted).
Either way, this is not what the law said council should do when it consults on its 10 year budget, and the Mayor has approved an officially deficient document.