A_kk110916sp02.JPG Rats will be eradicated on Waiheke Island Photo / HeraldA_050515WCBRCYo03.JPG Food safety and drinking standards are overseen by council at 10,000 restaurants and bars across the city. Photo / Bevan Conley
In the final of a five-part series on "Rates: Where your money goes" the Herald finds plans are well under way to introduce food scrap collections and council had a record year issuing consents for new houses.
Food scrap collections are on the way in Auckland following a trial in Papakura last year.
There, 20,000 households were charged $67 on their rates notices for a food scraps bin in addition to a general rubbish and recycling bins.
By 2021 it is hoped to have the three-bin kerbside collection running across the entire urban city to help Aucklanders reduce household waste and potentially save money on rubbish disposal. Savings will be made by recycling more and putting out less general rubbish charged for on a user-pays basis.
Council's director of infrastructure and environmental services Barry Potter said the food scraps programme is in the final stages of tender with parties to build a treatment plant costing about $30m.
Collecting waste and recycling collections cost ratepayers $95m last year through a mix of rates and user pays.
As well as managing the city's rubbish, Potter oversees pest control and the fight against kauri dieback disease, which got a big boost last year with the introduction of a natural environment targeted rate costing the average household $47 a year.
The targeted rate has gone towards reopening a number of tracks in the Waitākere Ranges and appointing more than 30 kauri dieback ambassadors across the city, including nine at ferry terminals.
Potter's team also used the targeted rate to step up weed and pest control with the help of 1700 community groups. Last year council provided the bulk of an $11m plan to make Waiheke Island the world's largest predator-free island by ridding it of rats and stoats by 2025. It is already free of possums.
Regultory services director Craig Hobbs has the job of making sure it is safe for Aucklanders and visitors to go out and have a meal and a drink at one of 10,000 restaurants and bars by managing food and alcohol standards. Last year that meant dealing with 2000 food safety and public health complaints.
Hobbs has another job of keeping the peace between neighbours, which led to 58,500 noise complaints last year.
He is also in charge of the council's resource consent, building consent and inspection teams. Last year council approved a record number 13,881 building consents for new dwellings in Auckland.
"We are booming and it is putting all sorts of pressure on our team," said Hobbs, saying it is a struggle to fill vacancies for planners and building consent staff.
User-pays fees for licences and consents pretty much cover the $159m cost of providing these services and overheads, he said
Last year, the regulatory team achieved its best result when it licensed 106,000 dogs, about 96 per cent of Auckland's 110,000 known dogs.
When it comes to running Auckland Council and keeping tabs on "sensitive spending" areas like staff numbers, salaries, consultants and communications, council chief executive Stephen Town is in the hot seat.
This comes under the "governance" spending area and includes $59m to support 170 elected members and other decision makers like the Independent Māori Statutory Board. A further $5 million was budgeted last year to run mayor Phil Goff's office.
Last year about $226m went into head office administration costs, some of which is spread across the wider council group. This included $13m on communications, $43m to run the finance team, $72m on IT costs, $29m for human resources and $21m on in-house legal costs and managing risks.
Town also oversees $63m of funding for Auckland Museum, Motat, other institutions like the Auckland Theatre Company and Auckland regional rescue helicopter, and $18m of targeted rates that businesses pay to improve and promote their local area.
The chief executive had the nice job last year of collecting dividends of $127m from council's shareholdings in Ports of Auckland and Auckland Airport.
Town, who has overall responsibility for managing the budget for council and its five council-controlled organisations(CCOs), said last year's numbers are still being worked on.
The latest accounts for the first nine months of the year show pleasing results for council and the CCOs and "fingers crossed we will be happy with your 30 June landing" when the final audited results are in, he said.
HOW YOUR RATES ARE SPENT - THE SERIES: