Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Phil Goff kicks off first day with promises of budget savings and fewer staff in mayoral office

New Auckland Mayor Phil Goff started work today as he means to go on - saying the mayoral office will be the first body to save money.

One of the first things he will do is use an existing council Nissan Leaf electric car as the mayoral vehicle as opposed to the gas guzzling Holden Calais V6 favoured by former Mayor Len Brown.

Goff promised to save "at least 3 per cent" from the mayoral budget of about $4 million.

Brown also ran a frugal office, coming in 10 per cent under budget.

One of my first jobs is going to be putting together a budget
Phil Goff

At a stand-up press conference in the lobby of the council's downtown headquarters this morning , Goff said the mayoral office would have fewer staff.

He said some staff would be "well paid because I need top people in order to carry out the accountability requirements of the mayor's office and its relationship with council".

High salaries - 36 council staff earn more than $300,000 - are a source of constant public criticism.

Goff said his day started at 4.45am and he was on his seventh media interview. He planned to contact all of the 20 councillors and hold his first meeting with council chief executive Stephen Town and his executive leadership team in what was shaping up to be a "hectic day".

Goff reiterated that trust and confidence of Aucklanders in council is critical and needs to be restored.

He was referring to a council survey showing just 15 per cent of Aucklanders have trust and confidence and a 17 per cent satisfaction rating. Goff has called this "deeply corrosive" to the system of local democracy.

He has told the Herald that former Air New Zealand bosses - Rob Fyfe and Norm Thompson - could be installed in council to rebuild public trust in the institution.

"I have been elected with a mandate and an obligation to carry out certain policies. Council officials understand how democracy works. That is what I am elected on and that will be the programme of the council subject, of course, to getting a majority of councillors voting in support of it.

"One of my first jobs is going to be putting together a budget and that budget has to carry through my commitments in terms of capping rate increases at an average of 2.5 per cent and finding efficiencies," Goff said.

After speaking to the media, he posed for a photo with Town, who whisked him away in a lift at the 31-storey building.

- NZ Herald

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