Post sponsored by NewzEngine.com

Source: Auckland Council

A $2.7 billion capital spend, investment in climate action, extending the living wage to cleaners, and reducing public transport fares for school children are among a suite of policies in Mayor Phil Goff’s Annual Budget proposal, received today by Auckland Council’s Finance and Performance Committee.

Investment in infrastructure

Phil Goff says the proposal is about continuing to invest strongly in infrastructure and services, showing leadership on climate change and readying Auckland for the international spotlight in 2021, when the city hosts the 36th America’s Cup, APEC, Te Matatini and a range of other events.

“This budget proposal provides continuity, stability and certainty as we enter a new decade and a new phase of development for our city,” says Phil Goff.

“2021 is going to be the most exciting year for our city since we hosted the Rugby World Cup almost a decade ago. So this budget proposal will ensure we are ready for 2021 and also setting up for the longer term.

“It’s about maximising the value of every dollar we spend to ensure we can meet the challenges our city faces and seize the opportunities available to us.”

Showing leadership on climate change

Mayor Goff says this budget proposal recognises the need for the council to lead by example on climate change.

“Following our climate emergency declaration in June, we are taking further steps to cut our carbon emissions in this budget before more substantive changes once we agree on the climate action framework.”

In last year’s 10-year Budget, $130 million was invested in a climate response fund and coastal asset management.

“However, we can’t afford to wait to take action. For that reason, in this annual budget, I am proposing urgent initiatives to demonstrate the council’s leadership in taking measures to cut its own emissions,” Phil Goff says.

“Under my proposal, we will cut our emissions by nearly 20 per cent by moving swiftly to decarbonise our vehicle fleet and shifting to sustainable energy across our community facilities.”

Other measures in the mayoral proposal include:

  • $2.7 million to expand tree planting activities across the region by 50 per cent, with at least 1.5 million mainly native trees set to be planted over the next three years to absorb carbon emissions
  • Investment in research to understand how the council can effectively achieve its climate goals
  • Appointing an independent expert to review the provisions in the Unitary Plan and determine how it can better support climate change adaption and mitigation
  • Continuing to fund climate education in our schools and communities, to empower people play a role in reducing emissions and caring for the environment.

Cheaper transport for kids

Phil Goff says, “Transport is a major contributor to carbon emissions, and my proposals to make public transport cheaper for kids, alongside continued investment in the public transport network, will increase patronage as well as reducing traffic congestion and emissions.

“Our work on climate change will complement the more than $700 million we are investing in water and environmental projects, as well as the $57 million we will spend on land for parks and open spaces over the 2020/2021 year.

Extending the living wage

Other Mayoral Budget Proposals include progressively extending the living wage to council-contracted cleaners and investing $500,000 a year over the next three years to work towards ending homelessness in Auckland.

Phil Goff says, “Making sure our city is looking after our lower-paid and more vulnerable citizens is something that is critical to our being an inclusive city.

“Having already ensured a living wage for council staff, I intend to extend the living wage to contracted cleaners, to ensure that those who do an honest week’s work are paid fairly and can provide for themselves, their children and families.

“We will also continue to work with the government, Housing First Auckland and other NGOs so that no one is forced to sleep rough, in vehicles or emergency accommodation because no alternatives are open to them,” he says.

Value for money and efficiency

Councillor and Finance and Performance Committee Chair Desley Simpson says, “The Mayor is following the trajectory set in last year’s 10-year Budget,  which shows he remains committed to investing in the infrastructure the city needs while ensuring spending remains within the prudential debt limits set by international ratings agencies.

“I look forward to working with Mayor Goff and our council colleagues to deliver a balanced budget that delivers for our city, for our people, and which gives ratepayers confidence in council decision-making.”

MIL OSI New Zealand News