Councillors were due to meet today to nut out decisions on Auckland Council’s Emergency Budget, which will be adopted at the end of the month and is sure to have lasting effects over services on Waiheke.
There are no winners when it comes to the budget cuts made necessary by the harsh post-Covid economic conditions, and Waiheke’s ratepayers and residents were split over whether to accept a 2.5 or a 3.5 percent rates increase – the results of which were also due to be announced by Mayor Phil Goff today [Thursday].
Out of the whopping 34,915 submissions on the budget, 456 submissions were from people living in the Waiheke Local Board area. Of the 344 people who gave feedback on whether they would prefer a 2.5 or 3.5 percent increase, 46.8 percent said 3.5 percent, 41.9 percent chose 2.5 percent and 11.3 percent said they didn’t know.
Of those islanders who selected the 3.5 percent option, the most common reason was the need to maintain core services. Many commenters said they didn’t want cuts or job losses in essential areas like public transport, libraries, parks, pest control, environmental and climate change initiatives, arts and the development of Matiatia. A large number of people also called for council managers to receive salary cuts, and a moderate number requested that there be no asset sales.
Of those who supported a 2.5 percent rates increase, the most frequent comment was that the increase shouldn’t be more than 2.5 percent as many people are struggling financially due to the Covid-19 crisis. Another popular response was that rates increases should be minimised by reducing council management salaries. Other commenters suggested vanity projects be cut, said council should become more efficient, that rates are already too high and that increases should be kept to a minimum. • Sophie Boladeras
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