Fighting kauri dieback disease in the Waitakere Ranges is shaping up as a major focus of Auckland Council's 10-year budget, but there is no money for new regional parks.
Plans for a regional petrol tax in Auckland have freed up funds to tackle the environmental threat to kauri trees while holding the average rates rise to 2.5 per cent.
Councillors are today debating two targeted rates for the environment, one raising an extra $123 million a year and a second option raising $279m. The lower option would have only have a small impact on stopping the kauri dieback disease spreading, while the second option would seriously reduce the spread of the disease.
Under a proposal being promoted by finance chairman Ross Clow, the council could go with the $279m option and hold overall rates rises to 2.5 per cent.
A second targeted rate to improve waster quality also fits within the 2.5 per cent rates rise.
But while the environment targeted rate would address the kauri dieback disease and increase spending on pest control and marine biosecurity, officers said there was no money in the proposed 10-year budget to buy land for new regional parks.
An amendment from councillor Chris Fletcher to split Ports of Auckland's business from land ownership, which would involve selling the business and council keeping the 72ha of port land, was lost by 17 votes to five.
"I believe the land on which the port sits must be held by the council for the future. It is a strategic asset and should not be sold," Fletcher said in an email to councillors.
"The business of the port is another matter. I passionately believe that business, the commercial operation, should be separated. This could provide fresh investment, creating a better platform for efficiency and competition. I know that many small Auckland investors would welcome an opportunity to invest in their port," she said.
Said Mayor Phil Goff: "If you were wanting the sell you couldn't choose a worse time to sell than right now because the future of the port is not clear."
He was referring to Government plans for an upper North Island port study.