POLITICS

Where are the millions Rodney?

Wednesday 19 August 2009, 4:34PM
By Waitakere City Council
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Waitakere City’s deputy mayor is calling on the Minister of Local Government to “come clean”.

The Minister, Rodney Hide, has claimed publicly that the agency responsible for designing Auckland’s supercity has so far found hundreds of millions of dollars worth of savings.

But Penny Hulse says that claim is simply “smoke and mirrors”. The Auckland Transition Agency has simply listed money shaved from draft council budgets, before their final budgets were approved.

“But those are not savings, because the money was never there in the first place,” she says.

“Auckland and Manukau cities decided for example not to go ahead with upgrades to their buildings because the supercity is on the horizon. That was a sensible, reasonable thing to do, but those figures were never in final budgets so they can hardly be classed as savings.

“It is a very normal process for councils to develop draft budgets in their Long Term Council Community Plans (LTCCPs), put them out for consultation, listen to their communities and then confirm final numbers. It is completely disingenuous to claim that through that process there are any real savings.”

Mrs Hulse adds that there remains “absolute silence” as to the set up costs of the new council.

“He has neglected to mention the multi-million dollar cost of amalgamating the IT systems of seven councils. That will be one of many bills borne by Auckland ratepayers. If Mr Hide is talking numbers he should begin by telling the people of Auckland how much their rates will go up because of what he is creating.”

“Maybe he will fund those costs by selling off assets. He seems pretty keen on that.”