It’s time to demand Super City Dividend

Auckland Mayoralty

John Palino – 

The introduction of the Super City in 2010 was supposed to make a positive difference for Aucklanders.

Aucklanders have not received the ‘Super City Dividend’ promised when the seven Councils and Auckland Regional Council were merged.

Rather than producing savings and encouraging Auckland to flourish, we have seen the exact opposite. An out-of-control approach to regulation and spending has led to an overbearing and unwieldy Council passing costs onto Auckland ratepayers.

Too many heads

Auckland Council staffing numbers are now far higher than the sum of the pre- amalgamation parts, congestion is worsening, house prices are unsustainable and costs have exploded.

Over the last six years, we have had a dysfunctional Mayor and Council, who have drastically increased rates, massively increased debt, and imposed restrictive and expensive regulations and processes on all Aucklanders.

On top of that, we are now learning of massive budgetary blowouts related to IT projects and Council buildings. These will compound an already problematic financial position.

The first six years of the Super City have been a lost opportunity. Our Mayor and Council have failed to do the things we expected them to do.

Despite our Mayor’s promise of a maximum 2.5% rates rises, we have had rates rises far higher than the rate of inflation.

Good opportunity

In 2016, Aucklanders have a chance to replace our high spending, regulation-heavy, Mayor and Council with sensible, pragmatic leadership. Aucklanders have a chance to elect a Mayor and Council who will adopt meaningful and effective strategies aimed at resolving Auckland’s problems but operating within a budget that reflects what ratepayers can afford while also delivering better core services.

Aucklanders have a chance to elect a Council that changes the direction of our City for the better, and delivers on the promised benefits of the Super City.

I believe that the best cities in the world are those where the people who live in those cities made their own decisions.

I want the next generation of Aucklanders to be able to choose where and how they live. I want them to be able to determine what they do, where they do it and how they get there.

The best way to achieve this, is with a focused Council which keeps costs and regulation down.

Frustrating experience

In critiquing the policies and management of the current Mayor and Council, I want to acknowledge those current Councillors and staff who have not supported many of the actions taken by the current Mayor and Council as a whole.

It must have been extremely frustrating for them to be in a minority when a majority of the Council was making poor decisions.

My campaign for Mayor is based on having sensible and achievable policies for the real problems facing Auckland and Aucklanders.

Auckland needs a Mayor who is prepared to genuinely tackle these problems, not an incrementalist Mayor, who will tinker around the edges, or as Phil Goff (a Mayoral Candidate) says, ‘slow things down.’

That would be like King Canute trying to hold back the tide.

John Palino is a South Auckland based businessman and a candidate for Auckland Mayorality. The above is an edited version of an extract from his book, ‘A Vision for Auckland.’

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