Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

Mayors, the truth and consequences

Auckland’s mayor presented his draft budget this week. It represents a 6.2% increase in council spending next year. He plans to increase core council spending by 2.5%, increase waste water control spending by 2.8%, and kauri tree protection by 0.9%. The maths here are pretty straightforward and council staff even helpfully highlighted this in his budget summary.

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However, he is claiming a 1.4% increase and Auckland’s main media outlet the NZ Herald and Television New Zealand went along with this.

Happily Radio New Zealand and Television Three were not quite so won over. Todd Niall’s coverage and short interview with Goff is revealing.

As is the TV Three graphic.

86A44E27-6EFD-48F9-9552-A80F9C35969DThe confusion is over the new, and existing, transport investment charges. Goff is, to his credit, removing Len Brown’s unfair and poorly implemented transport levy. As a result, he is claiming this nets out his  6.2% increase and the result is only a 1.4% rise.

BUT, what he is glossing over is the impact his new fuel tax will have. Which by his council’s own figures is a greater charge to most Aucklanders.

A further problem is that the new budget will come in when new house revaluations impact how much people pay in rates. Meaning his election promise of an average 2.5% rates increase won’t be credible or actual for many Aucklanders.

Len Brown got into the same trouble by not being clear with Auckland about what the total council charging picture was. Both politicians focussed on their election promises, and then sort to bend reality to fit their narrative.

Partly as a result, only 17% of Auckland’s trust council to make good decisions.

The additional spending Goff wants to do will be supported by many, but they would rather that came from him adjusting and cutting more of the less important activities. And by being more truthful about what the real story is.


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