Bernard Orsman 's Opinion

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Bernard Orsman: Juggling act to achieve city vision

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Mayor Len Brown, Arthur Anae, George Wood and Callum Penrose arrive at a special Auckland Council meeting. Photo / Greg Bowker
Mayor Len Brown, Arthur Anae, George Wood and Callum Penrose arrive at a special Auckland Council meeting. Photo / Greg Bowker

Len Brown might feel the tide has turned on the sins of the recent past, but is now juggling a budget that will determine if his vision is real or not.

Yesterday, the mayor kicked off the public process of a new 10-year budget with a broad outline of where he sees the Super City heading.

It followed a "scene setting" workshop last month where, by all accounts, councillors were wowed by another Vancouver perspective on liveable cities and decided public transport and improved urban living were the top "transformational shifts" for the budget.

Spending priorities extended to the city centre and South Auckland.

It's one thing to up the ante in these areas, but another to put in real dollars when there is no public appetite for large rate rises or debt increases.

This is especially so given the current problems of soaring debt, hefty rate increases and the $2.86 billion city rail link, which has a start date of 2016 but no funding package.

Ideas by Brown for tolls and a regional petrol tax to fund transport, and an income or GST tax to replace rates have been rejected by National and Labour. This limits Brown's options for new funding.

Public-private partnerships are no silver bullet, leaving the mayor with the old levers of rates, debt and a political stick of dynamite - cutting spending and reducing services.

- NZ Herald

Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Super City reporter Bernard Orsman has been covering local government issues in Auckland since 1998. He covered the Auckland City Council beat through the Christine Fletcher, John Banks and Dick Hubbard terms before turning his attention to the creation of the Super City. Bernard was previously based in the Press Gallery at Parliament for nearly six years. He joined the Herald in 1990 after a stint on New Zealand News UK in London. Bernard studied politics and mathematics at Victoria University before graduating from Wellington Polytechnic School of Journalism.

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