Auckland Council has today issued its very first pre-election report.
A new requirement of all councils under the Local Government Act from this year, the pre-election report is prepared by the local authority’s chief executive and must be politically independent.
“The purpose of a pre-election report under the Act is for councils to provide information to promote public discussion about the issues a council faces ahead of the local body elections, so voters can make more informed choices,” says Doug McKay, Auckland Council Chief Executive.
The Auckland Council Pre-Election Report 2013, prepared to meet the requirements of the Act, includes financial results for the three financial years immediately preceding the date of the election and latest projections for the three years immediately after.
The report includes a forecasted result for 2012/2013 year; given the final audited financial results for this period will not be reported to council until September 2013.
Local Boards Starved of Needed Cash – So Another Way to Provide Local Services?
Just recently Manurewa Local Board Chair – Angela Dalton posted some rather sad pictures on the state of affairs in regards to maintenance to civic places like parks and berms in Manurewa. I’ll let the photos do the talking here:
Now after Angela had posted the photos, the Council contractor raced out with the mowers to err trim the grass – and leave it all behind (which would have made great hay for my chickens) (oh and miss the edges too). However as the Manurewa and Papakura Local Boards will attest to, service provisions for these Local Boards from the main Council and its contractors who look after civic places has basically fallen off a cliff. And these Local Board Service Provision stories I keep seeing on Facebook due to either Local Boards facing cuts in their budgets to fund provisions or services, or super city amalgamation being a catalyst to decrease in either services or quality of services are appearing time and time again.
So the question is ‘what on earth is going on here?’ Why are our Local Boards being hurt with inadequate service provisions and ratepayers/communities having to suffer from reduced service levels from Auckland Council. Last month I ran a post (AN INVESTIGATION) highlighting the discussion about rates and service provisions to our local communities.
I had basically said that we need to look at how we fund things, how we fund the Local Boards, and how the Local Boards should be properly resourced to provide adequate service provisions for their communities. An example of what I said was:
Just a refresher (just in case) Bulk Funding the Local Boards goes like this. Orakei currently pays $106m in rates to the “Council” yet “Council” only gives $10m (about 10%) back to Orakei to run its Local Board and services. The proposal I am running with is Orakei pays $106m to “Council” and Council gives back (and that is a must, no if’s buts or maybes) 25-33% (up to Local Board’s decision on level) back to Orakei so Orakei can run and maintain its Local Community Services, Events plus any CAPEX spending as it sees fit (of course with dialogue with its residents and businesses).
The Governing Body can not touch the 33% as it is ring fenced to Local Boards. This also includes the Governing Body unable to hike the rates beyond 1.6x the rate of inflation at max with all spending spelled out per the current Better Local Government MK II Bill/Act/Paper
You can read the rest of that post by clicking HERE.
After I posted the “An Investigation” post, Botany National MP – Jami-Lee Ross posted and kicked off this discussion with me about Local Board funding and service provisions”
Rates Due to Hike Again – So Time for An Investigation
Okay, some idiot in Council mentioned rates and rates rises again giving the hapless ratepayer a sour stomach as we approach Summer and the Silly Season (although for Council, it is always the Silly Season with the Ratepayer Credit Card). Here is a piece from Councillor Cameron Brewer via Facebook with all the comments below (I am pasting this to draw context on where I am going with this):
Jami-Lee Ross In my view, the simplest way to fund local services would be as follows:
1) have a clear definition of what is local and what is regional 2) everything regional is funded from a general rate set by governing body. They are accountable for it. 3) everything local is funded from a local services targeted rate, funded from within that ward and kept within that ward. Local board set this targeted rate and are accountable for it. No cross subsidisation on local projects. Complete control for local boards when it comes to local issues. High spending local boards can spend whatever they want. Frugal local boards can likewise do so and not see their savings going back into the general pool.
This model would ring-fence local funding for local initiatives, but would still see regional infrastructures and services funded. It would empower local boards much more as well as demand greater accountability.
Ben Ross You and I are on the exact same page here Jami-Leein regards to your comment 😀 Now then can we do such a thing or do we need you guys (Central Govt) to a legislation change?
Jami-Lee Ross Auckland can do that by itself. It would just require discipline and a willingness by the governing body.
Ben Ross Okay so in other words a great amount of difficulty then 😛 if you know what I mean
Jami-Lee Ross Im not sure we are on the same page – bulk funding as you describe it would see the governing body still in control of the level of funding to local boards. I would suggest LBs decide themselves and be accountable for it. If LB-A wants to ramp local rates up by 25%, they should be able to, but have to fund that from within their own local board area. If LB-B wants to have a 25% cut in local rates, they should also be able to, but have to find the saving within their own area.
Ben Ross Okay a similar page then but none the less ideas that can be worked on. We are both wanting similar outcomes just at this point in time different ways in achieving it. Although I am sure we can flesh out points and build a solid idea/proposal/case
Jami-Lee Ross It’s all academic anyway. Chances of seeing the governing body give up some power is near zero.
A good discussion of ideas there about Local Board funding and service provisions. And a (mature) discussion to be honest and frank we as a community and a city need to have.
I’ll tell you what, I will go look into these ideas some more and get back to you. However I am willing to run in my election to Papakura Local Board next year stating that; If elected to Papakura Local Board 2013, I will advocate and push for a full and frank discussion with the residents and businesses inside the Papakura Local Board area on Local Board Funding and Service Provision. Do you want the status quo as currently; or do you want something like bulk funding and increased “power” over your Local Board service provisions whether it be the method I suggest OR the method Jami-Lee Ross suggested. Which ever option you chose will be the option pushed to lobby the main Council/Governing Body!
Just a quick note though, the wheels of the governing body and bureaucracy turn slow. So even if and when the discussion began, it will take some time to push the governing body and bureaucracy to change and adopt the provisions you want for your community. Patience would be the key thing here, something even I need and have to persevere with as we go through the motions with the Manukau South Link.
Service provisions for our Local Boards funded or provided by the main Council is a sore point with local residents, businesses, communities and Local Boards. Alternatives are being searched for and once found should be presented to the local community/communities for their input and discussion. At the end of the day it is the local that gets stuck with how and what local service provisions are provided and funded for – whether it be from the main Council or via bulk funding. I am ready to have that robust discussion for a Better Papakura and Better Auckland – are you?