“The clock is ticking” – that was Auckland Mayor’s message to the council as they met today to discuss solutions to a $270 million deficit in the proposed 2023-2024 Annual Budget.
Addressing the media after the meeting, Mayor Wayne Brown said council would have to work hard to fix the issue, otherwise it could mean a 12 percent rate increase for Aucklanders.
He said they could not rule out any solutions for the time being.
“We’re at the start of the process.
“The real works starts today, and we have a lot to do to meet our statutory time frames,” he said.
In a statement, Brown called the meeting a “start in the battle” against what he said were “rate rises and service cuts” facing the city.
He said the Council “must take every step available to not add to Aucklanders’ agony”.
Auckland Council chief financial officer Peter Gudsell said Auckland was not alone in this situation, with many councils around the country grappling with the pressures of inflation and rising interest rates.
“I have heard through contacts and colleagues that other councils might even be facing a greater impost than we are, but that will become clearer in a matter of time,” Gudsell explained.
The council went straight from the meeting at Auckland’s town hall this morning into private workshops for the rest of the day, to discuss potential fixes to the budgetary blow-out.
There were those, however, who would have preferred the discussions around the city’s finances be kept out in the open.
Waitematā and Gulf Ward councillor Mike Lee voiced his discomfort with the workshop format, and said Council should not be operating “in secret”.
Brown said the workshops were a way to have a “free and frank discussion” about the deficit.
He said the report into the Council’s deficit was a wake-up call and something that confirmed the rest of the budget setting process would not be business as usual.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz