25 Mar 2011

Final council merger report highlights savings

11:32 am on 25 March 2011

The final report on the amalgamation of Auckland councils continues to promise major savings at the same time as ratepayers face rising bills.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide says last year's reforms will more than pay for themselves, but it is not clear when.

The Auckland Transition Agency's final report is largely similar to material it produced last October.

Reality has overtaken many of its forecasts. It forecast a rates rise of 3.9% if an unspecified $47 million of savings could be found.

Auckland Council is now aiming for a rise of almost 5% and will have to find savings of $62 million to achieve that.

The costs of the amalgamation process will this year exceed the savings, including a redundancy bill at least 25% higher than forecast.

The council is guarded over whether net savings will begin to flow from mid next year.

Eight previous councils were merged on 1 November.