Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Projects put on hold in bid to soften black budget

Council seeks savings of up to $300m this year as pressure mounts to peg rates rises.

Auckland City Mayor Len Brown has already warned that the Super City faces tough choices. Photo / Dean Purcell
Auckland City Mayor Len Brown has already warned that the Super City faces tough choices. Photo / Dean Purcell

Hundreds of capital projects totalling about $300 million are being deferred by Auckland Council this year to address pressures in next year's black budget.

Core services are not immune, with $10.1 million less being spent on the city's dilapidated stormwater system and Auckland Transport targeting bus lanes and rail projects in Parnell and Pukekohe.

As well as big projects, $35 million of local projects are being deferred, including a skate park at Riverhead, $84,377 for a new playground and toilet upgrades in Mangere East, $5786 for litter bins and $1.9 million for tarting up Mt Albert town centre.

CLICK HERE to see the deferred projects in your area

The mayor faces the daunting task of having to slash costs to achieve 2.5 per cent average rates increases.

Mr Brown will release the first draft of the budget on Thursday that will include cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in running costs and capital investment over 10 years.

Projects deferred this year will go forward to the 10-year budget where they will be reviewed and, in many cases, further deferred - or axed.

Mr Brown has already warned that the Super City faces tough choices. Options include an end to inorganic rubbish collections, reduced library hours, less maintenance of parks and cutting cultural festivals and events.

The only sacrosanct project in the 10-year budget is the $2.4 billion City Rail Link, which Mr Brown has still to produce a funding plan for.

Councillors have also voted to preserve a business-class-travel perk and are pushing ahead with the $1.5 million state house sculpture on Queens Wharf.

The deferrals include 260 council projects with a combined value of $115.3 million, $150 million of Auckland Transport projects (including $50 million of NZ Transport Agency subsidies), $5.3 million from Regional Facilities Auckland and $2.8 million from Waterfront Auckland.

Auckland Transport has not detailed projects for deferral beyond suggesting Parnell Station, the Pukekohe Station upgrade and bus and transit lane improvements.

Waterfront Auckland's deferrals include tram extensions and improvements to Waitemata Plaza, while Regional Facilities said affected projects include work on Mt Smart's No2 ground and Town Hall acoustic work.

Mr Brown said deferrals were part of the regular management of any council's capital programme.

A council spokesman said the review aimed to develop a programme that could realistically be delivered and contain pressure on rates.

Pauline Ereckson, secretary of the Henderson Croquet Club, was mystified at the deferral this year of $24,487 for the club at Cranwell Park. It was her understanding the former Waitakere City Council had set aside about $240,000 for new clubrooms, none of which had been provided by the Auckland Council.

Peter Haynes, who as chairman of the Albert-Eden Local Board has championed long-held plans for a $5 million makeover of Mt Albert town centre, is confident a $1.9 million spending deferral this year will go ahead next year.

5 projects on deferred list

$150m Transport (including bus lanes and rail projects in Parnell and Pukekohe)
$2.4m Playground and park upgrade of Myers Park
$2m Quay St boulevard project
$4.2m Victoria St green link
$1.9m Mt Albert town centre upgrade

- NZ Herald

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