Auckland Council approved $39.5 million of new spending proposals in the next financial year, without proposing to raise rates, borrow more money or cut funding to other areas.
Of that amount, $17.3m is capital expenditure and $22.2m operational spending.
The extra spending is possible, said finance committee deputy chairwoman Desley Simpson, because of efficiencies in council spending over the last three years.
The new spending was tabled by Mayor Phil Goff and includes his recent proposal to add $1.1m for new public transport initiatives. From September, children under 16 will ride free on weekends, on buses, trains and some ferries. Also, many ferry passengers will get fare cuts as a result of integrating their ferry tickets with bus and train connections.
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Motorsport enthusiasts will see a further $8.9m spent on Colin Dale Park, near the airport. Many motor sports already operate there, and Goff hopes the park will become a new hub for all motorsport, including speedway. A decision on that is still some time away.
The extra money also includes $14m to cover unanticipated costs in the refurbishment of Aotea Centre, which is under way now. The blowout occurred when it was realised cladding materials, similar to those on the Grenfell Tower in London, would have to be replaced. The cladding on Grenfell was a major factor in the devastating fire in that building, that led to the deaths of 72 people.
The budget decisions were made by the finance committee, which includes all councillors, the mayor and two members of the Independent Maori Statutory Board. They will go to the governing body of council for final ratification next month.
The vote was almost unanimous. Only councillor Mike Lee voted against, and only councillor Fa'anana Efeso Collins was absent. Later in the day, when they voted on the whole 2019-2020 budget, councillors Christine Fletcher, Greg Sayers and Sharon Stewart joined Lee in voting no.