6 Nov 2017

Council cost-cutting may not mean lower rates

6:37 pm on 6 November 2017

Rates bills are unlikely to shrink despite the second stage of a major efficiency drive getting underway at Auckland Council, a councillor is warning.

Auckland City Council building

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The finance and performance committee has called for a detailed breakdown of how savings of up to $37 million a year might be delivered, after an initial review found that potential.

The statutory review has so far targeted four of eventually 30 Auckland Council activities: its water and drainage operations, communications and engagement, waste, and international investment attraction.

Most of the potential savings so far could come by better integrating the council's stormwater division with its separate water and sewerage company Watercare.

Councillor Chris Darby reminded the meeting that while better value for money might be found, so too might the need for higher spending to protect the environment and cope with climate change.

"I believe that we are up for some phenomenal expenditure in the decades to come," he said.

"This decade - in this 10 Year Plan - we'll start that, but future plans I believe are going to be spending tremendously in that area."

The $46 million annual spending on communications and engagement across the council and its agencies was the other major focus.

The opening review found potential for better co-ordination and groupwide spending, but councillors held off accepting a recommendation for an immediate 5 percent cut.

Some feared the cut would affect statutory consultation, or engagement with communities on projects.

The chief executives of the council and five agencies will report in February on the feasibility of making the cost cuts tha the review thought could be achieved.

International investment and global partnerships was found to be money well spent, but where some better co-ordination could occur.

The waste review found good work and significant savings had been made in the domestic waste area since the council was formed in 2010, but much greater potential existed in trying to reduce commercial waste.

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