Council to Look at Alternative Funding – PROPERLY This Time

Review to get under way – mid year

I am been a vocal critic of the Council being extremely slow in investigating new ways of getting alternative funding for projects that do not involves fuel taxes nor tolls. As such and using examples widely overseas (quite successfully too) I gave a presentation to the Auckland Development Committee on one way of gaining alternative revenue via Development Auckland that also gives benefits to quality urban renewal at the same time.

The presentation can be seen here: The Reaction To My Presentation to the Auckland Development Committee [Updated with figures and links] (Note: the design for the Bus Interchange at Manukau by Auckland Transport has changed from initial 2013 impressions).

Today Councillor Linda Cooper issued a statement on the Council through the Budget Committee next week getting ready to consider a review and research of alternative funding sources.

From Scoop

Mayor acknowledges need to review funding sources

Mayor acknowledges need to review funding sources
Mayor Brown has acknowledged the need for Auckland Council to review its mix of funding sources between now and the next Annual Plan, saying in his final proposal for the Long Term Plan (LTP):

“There has also been a recent discussion about potential asset sales. My position on the sale of our shares in Ports of Auckland and Auckland Airport remains unchanged – I do not support any such sale. However, I recognise that there is a desire for councillors to understand and debate the financial implications of the alternative positions and also a need to communicate with the public about these alternatives. In view of this I am proposing that the Chief Executive prepare information that will enable this discussion to take place through the work programme of the Finance and Performance Committee. This report will need to take account of the work of the Local Government NZ Funding Review – when this is completed.”

The following recommendation will now be put to the Budget Committee when it meets on 7 May:

That the Budget Committee:

a) agree to undertake a review of Auckland Council’s mix of funding sources to inform the 2016-17 Annual Plan, with the broad objectives of further reducing the proportion of council revenue funded from rates, maximising the return on council’s investments and exploring alternative sources of funding, including from the optimisation of assets that are poorly aligned with council’s core business and the broader strategic growth priorities for Auckland 

b) direct the Chief Executive to commence the design of the review and its associated processes following the release of the Local Government New Zealand Funding Review Final Report in June 2015

c) request that the terms of reference for the review be reported back to the July meeting of the Finance and Performance Committee.

I am pleased that Mayor Brown has listened to the overwhelming feedback from Aucklanders about the need for council to further reduce its reliance on rates funding and explore creative and innovative solutions to address our infrastructure deficit, including from the sale of council assets.

I support those measures in the draft LTP designed to balance demand for infrastructure with affordability, including the targets for efficiency savings and the disposal of non-strategic assets. However, our key stakeholders have told us that the funding mix is not quite right and that we need to do more work to reduce the burden on ratepayers.

Auckland Council will be initiating this review at the right time, with Local Government New Zealand due to hand down its final report on local authority funding models in June. By acting now, council sends the right signals to our prospective funding and development partners – that our commitment in the LTP to work with the private sector, central government, charitable organisations and community groups to fund our infrastructure priorities is genuine and we are exploring how best to do this.

This will be an important conversation for Aucklanders about the appropriate level of rates funding for council. The onus will be on councillors to ensure that the terms of reference are sufficiently broad in scope so that our key stakeholders can be presented with a comprehensive set of options for funding council’s core activities over the coming years.



Progress being made and still a collaboration with Auckland to be needed after the Long Term Plan becomes operation on July 1