Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Big cuts to Auckland services revealed today

Auckland mayor Len Brown. Photo / NZ Herald
Auckland mayor Len Brown. Photo / NZ Herald

Big cuts to transport, parks and community services will be outlined later this morning when Auckland Mayor Len Brown unveils the first draft of a new 10-year budget.

Mr Brown must slash capital works and running costs to keep his election promise of holding overall rates increases at 2.5 per cent this term and control spiralling debt.

Last month, Mr Brown said the council faced tough choices.

Among the options were an end to inorganic rubbish collections, reducing library hours, less mowing of parks and cutting cultural festivals and events.

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The proposed cuts are on a scale never witnessed in Auckland before.

In the transport area, which accounts for half of council expenditure, a number of big roading and public transport projects are on the block.

These include rail to the airport, a new rail station for Parnell, electrification of rail to Pukekohe, the Penlink road from Whangaparoa to East Coast Bays and big upgrades for Lake Rd, Great North Rd, Great South Rd and Mill Rd.

There maybe no council assistance for a Northwestern busway and a 20 per cent cut to cycling projects.

As well as trimming $2.8 billion of capital works over the next 10 years, to keep rates at 2.5 per cent the budget must cut running costs, starting at $90 million in 2015-2016, rising to $630 million by 2024-2025.

With an average rates rise of 3.5 per cent, the reduction in running costs is $75 million in 2015-2016 and $430 million by 2024-2045.

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.

Last week, hundreds of capital projects totalling about $300 million were deferred by the council in this year's budget to address pressures in the 10-year budget.

These included core services, including $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 a renewal of Mt Albert town centre.

- NZ Herald

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