Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Mayor's group slammed for spending

Len Brown. Photo / Richard Robinson
Len Brown. Photo / Richard Robinson

A group set up to find ways to pay for Auckland's long-term transport needs is under fire for how much it is spending.

The Consensus Building Group was appointed by Mayor Len Brown last year to tackle a $12 billion shortfall in transport infrastructure spending over the next 30 years. Its recommendations will go to the Auckland Council next month.

The group of about 20 people representing Auckland business, community, environmental and transport interests, has a budget of $1.13 million. Its spending so far - $598,000 as at April 30, including $153,000 on communications and $70,000 on group members - has angered councillor Cameron Brewer.

"The big thing is not that they are blowing budget because they're clearly still within $1.1 million, but they've spent over half a million on meetings and [there is] no clear direction. The public is unlikely to get that this side of the election."

Costs included $25,000 for venue hire and catering for seven meetings.

Consensus Building Group spokesman Steven Boyd said the group was working within a budget.

"With one month of the project left to run we estimate we will be $350,000 under budget. This will include the processing and review of submissions."

Boyd said communication costs were high because they were made up of two campaigns - the first to let people know that Auckland's population was expected to grow by a million people by 2041 and the second to let the public know what the group was doing and how to be part of it.

Getting the message to 1.5 million people wasn't cheap, he said. Group members were reimbursed for their expenses and received money for attending meetings as well as for "considerable reading and meeting preparation work".

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 28 Nov 2014 06:54:56 Processing Time: 470ms