Brown takes knife to capital spend

By Bernard Orsman


Works for waterfront, Onehunga, Massey deferred to reduce election-year rates rise.


Aucklanders will have to wait longer to catch a tram from Britomart to Wynyard Quarter to help trim rates next year. Waterfront Auckland is proposing to delay extending the tram to Britomart until the 2014-2015 year as part of a review of the council's $1.8 billion capital programme next year.


Auckland Mayor Len Brown has instructed the council and council-controlled organisations (CCOs) to look at deferring and reducing the cost of projects to further reduce rates in his election-year budget.


Mr Brown has already proposed a rates rise of 2.9 per cent and is seeking to get the figure nearer 2 per cent.


As well as the $8.2 million tram project, other projects to be deferred include the Quay St boulevard ($25 million), the $28 million Onehunga foreshore project and $20.4 million of works this year and next year in West Auckland, including Massey North's town square and street upgrades.


The full spend on a superyacht facility at Wynyard Quarter has also been put back years after Waterfront Auckland's request for a $16 million ratepayer contribution was cut to $7.2 million in the long-term budget.


Councillor Mike Lee, who has championed the tram extension, was disappointed the project was getting it in the neck when "sacred cows" like the council's new $500 million computer system was untouched.


The tram loop extension to cross the Wynyard Quarter bridge to Britomart, making Quay St a boulevard, and the superyacht facility have been opposed by right-leaning councillors.


A report for today's strategy and finance committee meeting said the proposed deferrals would cut capital spending by $55 million over the current and 2013-2014 financial years.


Council officers did not know how much that would reduce rates next year, but in May said savings of $250 million would reduce the rates increase to 2 per cent. The capital budgets of the two biggest CCOs, Auckland Transport and Watercare, are yet to be reviewed.


Deferred savings


* $8.2m tram extension to Britomart

* $25m Quay St boulevard

* $28m Onehunga foreshore improvements

* $7.2m superyacht facility.

- THE AUCKLANDER

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