The devil's in the detail for mayors

By Doug Laing

1 comment
Bill Dalton.
Bill Dalton.

Twin-City mayors Lawrence Yule and Bill Dalton are pinning their hopes on good news in the finer details as the country unravels yesterday's Budget announcements.

The issues for both were transport and regional initiatives, with some pertinence for Hastings Mayor Mr Yule, stuck behind a stock truck and talking hands-free after stopping to check the latest details on his phone.

Meanwhile, Napier Mayor Mr Dalton had little time to hear or appraise the details as he prepared for a 4pm flight from Auckland for a short break in the US.

Mr Yule said the Government had "clearly identified that regional New Zealand needs its share of the action", but he needed more detail on things such as the $115 million for the Accelerated Regional Roading Package, although the announcement specifically mentioned roading projects in Gisborne, Marlborough and Taranaki.

Having spoken recently on the further upgrading of State Highway 2 north of Napier, he hoped more would be provided for the crucial Hawke's Bay-Gisborne link, but said: "That's the problem.

They allocate the funding. I don't know the details of that but it could be good for us."

A former career sharebroker, Mr Dalton said said he would be keen to see more on the key transport projects package, including the $190.2 million for what announcements refer to as "new capital funding for KiwiRail for the operation of the national freight network".

He said he'd be happy if it helped relieved truck congestion on the region's roads.

"The New Zealand economy is clearly in good shape," he said. "That bodes extremely for an election-year spending spree."

From the farm at Ohuka, Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said he hadn't expected much for areas like Wairoa and wasn't surprised about the lack of employment initiatives.

"Roading, health, policing, employment," he said. "They're the big issues for us. It's all very well moving people out of Auckland to fix a housing crisis but it's no use if there aren't going to be the jobs for them."

"I think Winston Peters summed it up," he said. "He called it the get-stuffed Budget."

As president of Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), Mr Yule acknowledged a much needed boost for communities in stronger regional economies, infrastructure, community and social housing, and biodiversity.

"Stronger, more successful regional economies and better community well-being are key areas of focus for LGNZ," he said. "We are pleased to see the Government focus on these priority areas for communities."

He said $44 million over four years to assist regions to develop opportunities in their economic action plans was a useful start to investing in local economic initiatives, and consistent with what LGNZ had been asking for.

An allocation of $100 million to improve freshwater quality in rivers, lakes and aquifers as part of a partnership fund would also be a useful addition to current funding. Also, in addition to $200 million for more social housing places in Auckland, LGNZ was pleased to see $500,000 going to Christchurch City Council to support home ownership services, as well as $37.8 million of funding for social housing available for third sector organisations.

"Like Government, local councils are focused on ensuring that housing stock can be brought to the market in a timely manner to ease the pressure on housing affordability," Mr Yule said.

A $12 million regional mid-sized Tourism Facilities Fund announced in advance was also welcomed and would assist smaller scale infrastructure projects like restrooms and carparks to deal with increasing tourist numbers.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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