Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

Local Boards Approve Too Little And Receive Too Much

Today’s Orakei Local Board Monthly Business Meeting Agenda has 295 pages, is 26MB in size and has over 30 items on the agenda. This is probably a little larger than average but by no means unusual.

Our Hibiscus and Bays Local Board colleagues were at 365 pages last month and Mangere-Otahuhu reached 410 pages and an impressive 85MB for one of their meetings

But what does all this bandwith amount to? The answer is not enough.

In the 31 items we will consider today, 10 are just formalities (no actual content) . Of the 21 substantial items, we will actually make decisions on only 2 items. For one of these, our own Annual Report, it’s only the Chairperson’s message that actually gets the approval (once we see it). The other is new dog access rules in parts of our ward.

The vast bulk of the items are for our information or see us “requesting” information or action or deferring a decision because the information has not been presented or work-shopped prior to the meeting.

As Auckland Council has progressed this has increasingly become the way of things with local boards.

We “receive” today the Annual Report on our “small projects” budget and this shows the primary decision making focus¬†for boards. In Orakei’s case, it involved a $900,000 capital budget and a $40,000 operating budget. We do have some other funds, but the total amounts to around $1.2 million. Our ratepayers contribute $110 million.

Now these modest amounts can make a substantial difference to our parks, community centres, residents and business groups. But the difference could be much greater.

Of the around 50 resolutions we are proposed to pass today, the word “approves”¬† or “adopts” only appears twice. Most often you see: “requests”, “notes” (very popular), “receives” etc.

This isn’t what local boards were planned to do when they were created on 1 November 2010.

It’s a leadership failure within Auckland Council.

We will need a new leader to fix it.

 


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