Leading by Example: Candidate Collins Wants Council to Laser Focus on the Cost of Living

Efficiency, Value for Money, Social Procurement!

When it comes to the Coin especially Public Coin there is a certain amount of Ownership, responsibility and most of all leading from the top. Fiscal Policy can be vexed but good stewardship can promote good relationships. So, with that we have this long spiel from Mayoral candidate Efeso Collins:

Efeso Collins: Auckland Council needs to be laser-focused on the cost of living

The cost of living is hitting us all hard, says Auckland mayoral candidate Efeso Collins, which is why he is announcing a raft of policies recognising the financial pressures people are under. 

“The ongoing impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the unstable geopolitical situation overseas has created a cost of living crisis that we’re all feeling,” Collins says. 

Alongside delivering fares-free public transport which can be paid for existing council budgets and central government subsidies, Collins says council already has the means to ease the financial burdens many people face. 

“Fares-free PT can save daily users of buses and trains up to $25 a week, which can mean more healthy food at dinner time, a warmer house, or the ability for families to buy the educational necessities that will enable their kids to stay on track with their studies.

“Auckland Council already provides free wifi in our libraries, but I will investigate how we can extend this to all council facilities, including council-managed community centres and transport hubs,” Collins says. 

“And with the increasingly hybrid lifestyles many find themselves operating in, we can ensure people can connect easily online for their work and study while travelling or using our council facilities. And where feasible, I will seek to establish more regional co-working hubs around Auckland similar to GRID AKL and GRID MNK, which council helped set up, enabling Aucklanders to live and work closer to home and other amenities and decreasing the need to make expensive cross-town trips.”

Another key way Council can respond to people’s cost of living pressures is ensuring we are providing council services efficiently, and rate costs are kept within an affordable range (nationally deemed to be on average less than 5% of household income). 

“I will require a review of the millions in council work that is currently out-sourced to see whether it can be provided more feasibly by council staff. And I will strongly advocate through a coalition of Mayors, that central government returns GST revenue from rates to local councils.”

Collins acknowledges council could also do more to support low-income ratepayers. 

“I acknowledge that general approaches to affordability and rates settings don’t take into account the actual impact on individual households, especially low income and fixed income households. Government programmes such as the Rates Rebate Scheme and Accommodation Supplement are fundamental to addressing affordability for many of our residents. Council could, and needs to do more, to ensure people are aware of and receive the benefit of these schemes.”

The following policies relate to Efeso Collins’ plans to ensure Auckland Council works more effectively for its ratepayers.

Issue: Council Services and Organisation
Challenge: According to Auckland Council’s own research, over 40% of Aucklanders do not trust the Council’s decision making, while over 30% of Auckland were dissatisfied with the council’s performance. To address this we have to get the council working better and more efficiently for our residents.
My Position 
● I will require a review of work that is currently out-sourced to see whether it can be provided more feasibly by council staff.
● I will seek a procurement policy that ensures locals are being actively recruited for employment opportunities, as well as increasing existing social procurement targets up to 15% of council spend.●  I will seek to increase staffing for enforcement and compliance roles, so rules are applied and enforced consistently in the city.
● I will pursue living wage accreditation for Auckland Council to ensure council’s contractors and suppliers pay their staff a living wage that allows them to look after their families, continue to live and work in this city and support Auckland’s economy.
● I will require maximum accountability and transparency of CCOs (Auckland Transport, Watercare, Eke Panuku and Auckland Unlimited) and investigate appointing councillors to all CCOs boards (some of which will require legislative change). 
Issue:  Economic Development and Covid-19 recovery, Supporting Local Empowerment
Challenge: Local boards are closer to local communities and are well placed to respond to their needs. Local boards need to be accountable and empowered to design and deliver a wider array of local services
My Position
● Where feasible I will seek to establish more regional co-working hubs to be set up in council facilities around the city, enabling Aucklanders to live and work closer to home and other amenities.
● I will investigate the feasibility to provide free wifi in all council facilities and in more public spaces.
● I will set up a Business Leaders Panel to directly advise the Mayor’s office on enabling start-up enterprises, enhancing Auckland’s economic development and how to better support small businesses.
● I will seek to ensure local decision-making is prioritised.
● I will advocate for the local placemaking delivered by CCOs to be informed by and be accountable to local boards.
● I will ensure Auckland’s diverse communities are meaningfully consulted with, including retaining advisory panels which include our disability, ethnic peoples, Pacific Peoples, Rainbow communities, seniors, youth, and rural Advisory panels, and including their key priorities as part of council’s policy development programme.
Issue:  Revenue and Assets
Challenge: Council faces a number of economic and fiscal risks from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, current, and emerging geopolitical risks, international commodity trade  and supply chain issues, imported and domestic inflation and a weakening economic outlook. Council has to manage these risks prudently to provide confidence that it is a responsible steward of the public purse. Households and businesses are also seeking better and enhanced services from council while their ability to meet the costs of these services is challenging.  
My Position
Council has four key levers to manage its books and meet public demand for services – revenue (rates, fees and charges, income from investments, subsidies), debt, its balance sheet through its assets, or through setting service levels. All options have impacts on the community and future generations. I will ensure a reasonable mix of all options are carefully considered and debated and the impacts understood by elected members and the community.   
I will ensure rates are set at an affordable level (nationally deemed to be on average less than 5% of household income). I am committed to not selling strategic assets such as shares in Auckland Airport and the Ports of Auckland.
I will strongly advocate through a coalition of Mayors that central government returns GST revenue from rates to local councils. I will ensure council’s current review of services ensures the impact on lower-income and vulnerable communities are carefully analysed so people who need these services aren’t the most disadvantaged through their reduction or loss.

I highly recommend to Efeso the following:

  • Scrap the controversial 2015 Len Brown Land Sale Policy. Unless obliged by the Treaty of Waitangi Settlements, Council should NEVER sell off land it owns. Land is an asset that can be leveraged for future investments, and generate revenue for the Council. Selling it off for a buck means that leverage is lost as well as any hope in controlling spatial form.
  • Start Non Fare Revenue policies which ironically means stop selling off land which would otherwise enable public owned Transit Oriented Developments. There is a reason there are cities that are champions in this space that are able to fund their transit systems without relying on public subsidies…
Non Fare Revenue is the name of the game!