Message from the mayor

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Portrait photo of mayor Phil Goff.

Between 2018 and 2020, Auckland Council made strong progress addressing the region’s long-term underfunding of critical infrastructure. We brought forward the clean-up of our beaches and harbours and accelerated investment in housing and transport infrastructure to meet the needs of our growing city.

However, the COVID-19 crisis has created huge challenges, reducing council income by $450 million this year, with cumulative losses projected to reach around $1 billion by 2024. While the health and broader economic effects of COVID-19 are not as bad as had been expected, we are by no means out of the woods yet. As long as New Zealand’s borders remain closed, Auckland as a major tourist destination and destination for the largest group of international students will continue to be disproportionally affected.

Nor can the potential for further lockdowns be ruled out with the risk of more transmissible variants of the disease spreading in the community. The effects of COVID-19 on the global economy are still unfolding and create further uncertainty and downside risk for Auckland and New Zealand. We can celebrate our good fortune, for now, but must not be complacent about the hard road ahead or the potential for further economic shocks.

Auckland Council’s 10-year Budget 2021-2031 is a Recovery Budget. It responds strongly to meeting the loss of income from COVID-19 while ensuring that we continue to invest in the infrastructure, services and facilities that our city needs to be world class and internationally competitive. It also continues our work to protect our environment and accelerates the actions we are taking to address the threats of climate change.

The Recovery Budget will increase total capital investment in our city from $26 billion to $31 billion over the next 10 years and will support operational expenditure of $55 billion to maintain and operate community assets that Aucklanders rely on, such as museums, libraries, the zoo, parks, playgrounds sports facilities, rubbish collections, recycling, roading and public transport.

It will enable additional infrastructure investment in transport, housing, water and the environment of around $900 million in the next three years and at the same time will support the renewal of key transport, water and community facility assets. This includes an extra $550 million for transport, $145 million for water infrastructure, $54 million for stormwater and $65 million for community facilities.

This capital investment will stimulate construction, jobs, and the economic recovery—allowing the council to contribute to bringing forward the recovery from the COVID-19 recession. It will also help us create long-term assets for the city and the issues it faces, in particular the increasing threat posed by climate change.

Scientists warn that we have less than a decade to make major changes to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Given this critical need, the Recovery Budget will significantly increase our existing climate actions with an extra $150 million to further accelerate our response through measures such as bringing forward the electrification of our bus fleet—including immediately halting the purchase of new diesel buses—investment to divert more waste from landfill and planting more than 11,000 street trees and 200 hectares of native forest. We will also improve our planning for coastal change and prioritise the Queen Street Valley to become a zero-carbon zone.

We will continue the work underway since 2018 to clean up our waterways and protect our environment by extending the Water Quality and Natural Environment targeted rates until 2031. This will provide an extra $150 million to invest in water quality projects in the Manukau Harbour and Eastern Isthmus, as well as an additional $107 million to lock in the benefits gained from pest control initiatives and ensure ongoing protection for native species such as endangered kauri.

A suite of urgent measures will be required to counter the immediate financial challenges of the pandemic and the lockdowns and to enable this investment.

In the Emergency Budget, we reduced staff numbers, constrained salaries and deferred lower-priority projects to achieve savings of $120 million. Through the Recovery Budget we will continue to intensify this search for savings and value for money, including locking in permanently $90 million of savings found in the Emergency Budget.

We will continue to sell surplus properties and reinvest the proceeds into critical infrastructure for our city. Over the next three years, we will increase these sales to return $70 million a year to invest in Auckland.

Borrowing will be increased to a temporarily higher ratio of up to 290 per cent for the first three years, after which it will reduce over time to 270 per cent. This is a prudent approach that is unlikely to affect our ratings from the major credit agencies, and will allow us to continue to use debt to finance long-term assets that will benefit future generations of Aucklanders.

While we will maintain our long-term commitment to a 3.5 per cent rates increase, a one-off increase of 5 per cent in the next financial year will ensure that we can maintain essential services and keep the city moving forward. This increase will amount to around 70 cents a week for the average-value property on top of the normal 3.5 per cent increase.

The Recovery Budget aims to continue investing in our communities, our environment, our city and our people while upholding our commitment to prudent financial management and living within our means. It positions Auckland to recover strongly from the severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, and maintains as far as possible our progress towards fulfilling our role as New Zealand’s world-class, globally competitive and inclusive city.

Ngā mihi

Mayor Phil Goff

Portrait photo of mayor Phil Goff.

Between 2018 and 2020, Auckland Council made strong progress addressing the region’s long-term underfunding of critical infrastructure. We brought forward the clean-up of our beaches and harbours and accelerated investment in housing and transport infrastructure to meet the needs of our growing city.

However, the COVID-19 crisis has created huge challenges, reducing council income by $450 million this year, with cumulative losses projected to reach around $1 billion by 2024. While the health and broader economic effects of COVID-19 are not as bad as had been expected, we are by no means out of the woods yet. As long as New Zealand’s borders remain closed, Auckland as a major tourist destination and destination for the largest group of international students will continue to be disproportionally affected.

Nor can the potential for further lockdowns be ruled out with the risk of more transmissible variants of the disease spreading in the community. The effects of COVID-19 on the global economy are still unfolding and create further uncertainty and downside risk for Auckland and New Zealand. We can celebrate our good fortune, for now, but must not be complacent about the hard road ahead or the potential for further economic shocks.

Auckland Council’s 10-year Budget 2021-2031 is a Recovery Budget. It responds strongly to meeting the loss of income from COVID-19 while ensuring that we continue to invest in the infrastructure, services and facilities that our city needs to be world class and internationally competitive. It also continues our work to protect our environment and accelerates the actions we are taking to address the threats of climate change.

The Recovery Budget will increase total capital investment in our city from $26 billion to $31 billion over the next 10 years and will support operational expenditure of $55 billion to maintain and operate community assets that Aucklanders rely on, such as museums, libraries, the zoo, parks, playgrounds sports facilities, rubbish collections, recycling, roading and public transport.

It will enable additional infrastructure investment in transport, housing, water and the environment of around $900 million in the next three years and at the same time will support the renewal of key transport, water and community facility assets. This includes an extra $550 million for transport, $145 million for water infrastructure, $54 million for stormwater and $65 million for community facilities.

This capital investment will stimulate construction, jobs, and the economic recovery—allowing the council to contribute to bringing forward the recovery from the COVID-19 recession. It will also help us create long-term assets for the city and the issues it faces, in particular the increasing threat posed by climate change.

Scientists warn that we have less than a decade to make major changes to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Given this critical need, the Recovery Budget will significantly increase our existing climate actions with an extra $150 million to further accelerate our response through measures such as bringing forward the electrification of our bus fleet—including immediately halting the purchase of new diesel buses—investment to divert more waste from landfill and planting more than 11,000 street trees and 200 hectares of native forest. We will also improve our planning for coastal change and prioritise the Queen Street Valley to become a zero-carbon zone.

We will continue the work underway since 2018 to clean up our waterways and protect our environment by extending the Water Quality and Natural Environment targeted rates until 2031. This will provide an extra $150 million to invest in water quality projects in the Manukau Harbour and Eastern Isthmus, as well as an additional $107 million to lock in the benefits gained from pest control initiatives and ensure ongoing protection for native species such as endangered kauri.

A suite of urgent measures will be required to counter the immediate financial challenges of the pandemic and the lockdowns and to enable this investment.

In the Emergency Budget, we reduced staff numbers, constrained salaries and deferred lower-priority projects to achieve savings of $120 million. Through the Recovery Budget we will continue to intensify this search for savings and value for money, including locking in permanently $90 million of savings found in the Emergency Budget.

We will continue to sell surplus properties and reinvest the proceeds into critical infrastructure for our city. Over the next three years, we will increase these sales to return $70 million a year to invest in Auckland.

Borrowing will be increased to a temporarily higher ratio of up to 290 per cent for the first three years, after which it will reduce over time to 270 per cent. This is a prudent approach that is unlikely to affect our ratings from the major credit agencies, and will allow us to continue to use debt to finance long-term assets that will benefit future generations of Aucklanders.

While we will maintain our long-term commitment to a 3.5 per cent rates increase, a one-off increase of 5 per cent in the next financial year will ensure that we can maintain essential services and keep the city moving forward. This increase will amount to around 70 cents a week for the average-value property on top of the normal 3.5 per cent increase.

The Recovery Budget aims to continue investing in our communities, our environment, our city and our people while upholding our commitment to prudent financial management and living within our means. It positions Auckland to recover strongly from the severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, and maintains as far as possible our progress towards fulfilling our role as New Zealand’s world-class, globally competitive and inclusive city.

Ngā mihi

Mayor Phil Goff