Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Auckland's future: Keep calm, but think hard

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  • James Butler,

    CONGESTION PRICING

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • LouisM,

    Great post, good to see someone calling for some sense on the Council's "financial crisis". As far as I know it's unprecedented for a council to pay for rail network infrastructure, it has usually been a central government exercise. I had assumed that if the 50/50 split between local and central government regarding funding the CRL goes ahead, then the track would be owned by AT. The current system of track access charges need to be thought again, because it seems that OnTrack are using track access fees as a way to make a profit, rather than just to cover the costs of points and signal operations. This needs to change because it's just a transfer of money from ratepayers to the central government.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2013 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Ross,

    The Taxpayers Union you can ignore as they (like a few "conservatives") lack City Building nous.

    As for funding the quickest way for the moment is to have a GST sharing arrangement like Australia does between Federal and State Governments. That is all GST collected off general rates goes back to the Council. All GST off water rates goes to Watercare. All GST off public transport goes back to Auckland Transport.

    After that we can go line by line in the CAPEX budget as that does need sorting out.

    Once that is done then we can look at alternative funding options

    Auckland • Since Jan 2014 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • LouisM,

    Also, we need to see a large trimming in the investment in roading infrastructure that will bring dubious returns. Unfortunately, most of the councillors who cry about a financial crisis are also supporting many of these large spending projects.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2013 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I’m also enormously annoyed by The Herald (and everyone else) running the “Len Brown’s a lying liar who’s dancing naked around a bonfire of YOUR money” line.

    Last time I looked, there is no local authority in this country where budgets are set by Mayoral fiat. Perhaps folks like Mr Orsman would be a little clearer on that if they got professional help for their obsession with Len Brown’s penis, and started taking fact-based reporting of local government seriously again.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    I’m honestly confused about how Orsman’s column was published. I mean, I know it fits a narrative, but surely some fact checking would have been in order? My impression is that Orsman is generally pretty good, so I don’t understand what happened here.

    ETA: I see I should have asked Google before posting.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis,

    The “calls” came from former North Shore comedy mayor and current New Zealand First MP Andrew Williams talking to Leighton Smith.

    Given the "Taxpayer Union's" linkages with one David Farrar, it's interesting to revisit how he treats the utterances of Andrew Williams on subjects he disagrees with him on: http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2012/11/fail-2.html

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Last time I looked, there is no local authority in this country where budgets are set by Mayoral fiat.

    This is correct, but spoils a number of popular narratives so shut up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I hear Bernard Orsman has never gotten over being snubbed over some petty matter or another several years ago, and he has a personal vendetta against Len Brown.

    In addition, Len Brown isn’t from the Auckland oligarchy, so everyday he is mayor he is the symbol mocks the pretensions of the born the rule Auckland elite that the Herald considers itself to be the mouthpiece of. So you are going to get ongoing shroud waving, hyper critical reporting and over blown half truths until the “right” person is elected mayor. At which point, they’ll stop reporting on anything bad at all.

    Think “Democracy under attack” when it was Helen Clark, and hardly a peep (except hagiographies) about John Key and his spy laws.

    People forget that for their rates 1.3 million people get their roads fixed, the rubbish collected, the fly-tippers hunted down, the noisy parties shut down, the stormwater maintained, every food outlet rated, the libraries in every suburb, properties inspected, pests and environmental emergencies addressed, pools, local parks and playing fields kept looking beautiful, a whole network of regional parks that are jewels, and on top of that, a whole host of council run community events. Not bad for four-five thousand a year.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

  • LouisM, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    Unfrotuantely I would have to disagree with your opinion on Orsman. I thought many of his reports and columns on the Unitary Plan were sensationalised, hyped-up and often misleading.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2013 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    For some reason people seem to think you can have the benefits of a city without having to pay for them. It's something that boggles the mind. I get that we don't like seeing bureaucratic waste and we don't like seeing our rates used on foolish ill-planned projects.

    But when you look at the total budget the percentage that gets wasted is tiny. Some things could be done more efficiently that's true of any organisation.

    So my simple answer to the question how do we pay for the things we want our city to provide - PAY MORE RATES. Put more money into the city so that we can have a city that is more efficient AND more enjoyable to live in.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Konrad Kurta, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That's actually disturbingly accurate. I can't understand how Orsman gets to write editorials that are so mind-numbingly stupid and misleading in the country's biggest newspaper. But I guess the man knows his (white, wealthy, disgruntled, middle aged) target market.

    South Korea • Since Dec 2012 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    ETA: I see I should have asked Google before posting.

    Much as I think Dr Bassett has become a bitter and twisted old man, he does have a valid point about the Granny. He's largely right, until the final sentence:

    "Does he want to be known as the individual who turned New Zealand’s premier paper into a sleazy, inaccurate British-style tabloid in the hands of tired old lefties?"

    Obviously he's never read the Sun or the Express or the Mail.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    But it seems to me that the capital infrastructure for Auckland’s million-and-growing can’t all be funded out of rising property taxes. Anyone got any ideas?

    If the council came up with an elegant, easy to administer, and fair money making scheme that would raise gazillions, Bill English would simply change the law to stop them doing it.

    The Wellington based political class is petrified of Auckland. They are determined to make sure the last ace they have - keeping the legislative boot firmly on the Auckland council's revenue gathering windpipe - is used as often as they can.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Len Brown sucks up to the right-wing councillors and agitators by proposing to keep rates down just like C&R did for decades and is rewarded by complaints from the same direction. We've seen the impact of short-sighted penny-pinching on the region's infrastructure.

    There's a huge promised investment in wasteful roading projects. Those are propped up by govt 'loaning' its national transport agency and co-funder extra money to bring some of them forward. Except the one project that does need to be ready in time to avoid the region's public transit networks seizing up. And local maintenance and operations which govt has been stealthily shrinking its share of.

    Orsman has long been a sad joke and I have no idea why he still has a job. At least Rudman seems able to string a few thoughts together without making shit up.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    For some reason people seem to think you can have the benefits of a city without having to pay for them.

    Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die first? Who hasn’t been there – but I really enjoyed a week of deliciously unseasonable warm spring weather in London a couple of years back. A week that was made all the more delightful because, following the “Great Stink” of 1858 an enormous amount of money was invested in a modern sewage system for Central London. Joseph Bazalgette’s scheme was completed 140 years ago, but the people of London are still enjoying the benefits of not having a giant open sewer and disease incubator running though the middle of the place they live and work.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    At least Rudman seems able to string a few thoughts together without making shit up.

    Meh... in the interests of general amity, I think we'll just have to agree to disagree there and move on. I wouldn't be too upset if both of them were put on gardening leave for a while, because their signal-to-noise ratios have been moving the wrong way for a long time.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Sacha,

    There's a huge promised investment in wasteful roading projects. Those are propped up by govt 'loaning' its national transport agency and co-funder extra money to bring some of them forward. Except the one project that does need to be ready in time to avoid the region's public transit networks seizing up. And local maintenance and operations which govt has been stealthily shrinking its share of.

    which suggests the easiest immediate thing one can do to help with the cities problems are to change the govt

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 538 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    assets of $37 billion against debt of $8 billion

    I think most of us would be quite happy with a mortgage of under 25% on our house.

    So why is such a loan to provide the community assets that allow us to live in that house suddenly "Oh noes bankruptcy doom and gloom"?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    This financial crisis beat up reminds of the one John Banks manufactured upon taking over the Mayoralty in his first term in order to create an opportunity for his mate, Bill Birch, to come in and delete all sorts of services out of the Council budget.

    Firstly, it's a lie. Secondly, the crisis actually lies in underinvestment in infrastructure which Standard & Poors noted five years ago, or so, in its report on Auckland's credit rating and upon which it flagged a credit watch on the city because it was going to have to pay for it at some stage.

    I'm really not sure what it is Brewer, Wood, Quax, etc., want for this city. I'm sure East Berlin had trains (!) that ran on time but I doubt there was much fun to be had there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    The subway in Berlin ran from one side of West Berlin to the other but under the East – I have a definite memory of them slowing down through the deserted stations – one could see a lone guard with a machine gun standing under a bare light bulb no doubt guarding against the chance of one of us daring to jump of and defect to the East

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I'm really not sure what it is Brewer, Wood, Quax, etc., want for this city.

    Tauranga, but with mega traffic jams.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Mark Graham,

    I’m really not sure what it is Brewer, Wood, Quax, etc., want for this city. I’m sure East Berlin had trains (!) that ran on time but I doubt there was much fun to be had there.

    I'd wager that it'd be anything to reinforce their gated-community-minus-the-gates worldview. Overseas, stiff opposition to public transit with a corresponding open chequebook for 16-lane freeways has that same sort of dogma.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Adams, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Auckland City's financial asset base is nowhere near that high: the $37bn figure includes parks, roads, footpaths, pipes, etc that can't ever ever be sold... not sure the banks would count those.

    http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Plans/LongTermPlan/VolumeTwo/section_1341865638182.html

    In terms of 'actual' realisable assets Auckland Council Investments has around $2.5bn, Auckland City Property has around $900m... would love to see the true asset figure, but would suggest $34bn aint it.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Stephen Adams,

    that can’t ever ever be sold

    Oh but managing them can be privatised, including leverage against a calculation of their ‘value’.

    I believe they also have their depreciation managed, like most public assets nowadays.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

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