Ever wondered where you rates money is going?
Many Auckland homeowners spend plenty of time questioning how much they pay in rates and exactly what they get in exchange for their hard-earned cash.
This week the Herald takes at look at where the $1.9 billion paid in the last financial year was spent - and where the money to top up the rest of the city's spending came from.
The five-day series drills down into seven key spending areas and covers everything from transport, water and parks to the fight against kauri dieback disease, improvements to Auckland Zoo and gearing the city up for the America's Cup.
When the Herald asked Aucklanders on the street if they knew how their rates were spent there was a varying level of general knowledge, but not everyone knew the finer details, like specific projects being carried out.
• READ MORE: Here's what your local board is spending money on
There were, however, no shortage of suggestions on where their money should be going.
Botany residents Dave and Paddy Schultz were not impressed with the resealing of a local road last year that is now breaking up while Pakuranga's Jan Wyatt wanted to see the return of the annual inorganic rubbish collections.
North Shore resident Brianna Kerridge simply wanted repairs to the Kennedy Park stairs down to Castor Bay beach.
$4.4b City Rail Link milestone: tunnel contract signed
Lyn and Chris Stevens love Pakuranga library and said "anything spent on libraries is worthwhile".
The new rating year started on July 1. The first rates bills begin arriving in letterboxes next month. This year's average rates increase is 2.5 per cent.
On top of the big spending items, like the $4.4 billion City Rail Link and a $1.2 billion giant underground sewer, hundreds of small local projects are completed every year.
Council also manages more than 4000 parks, 55 libraries and about 200 community halls, swimming pools and art facilities.
In the last financial year, Auckland Council and its five council-controlled organisations budgeted $2.5b for new capital projects and $4b in running costs of which rates accounted for about $1.9b. The rest came from user charges, dividends, Government subsidies and new debt.
Today, the Herald breaks down spending on transport - by far the biggest area of spend with a capital budget of $1.025b and running costs of $1.39b last year.
Auckland Council has struggled to deliver the $1 billion package of new transport projects in the past year and may not meet a similar target this year.
Despite the urgency around transport and the introduction of a 10 cents per litre regional petrol tax at the pumps, Auckland Transport and the council are on track to spend only 73 per cent of the $1b capital budget.
This is due to a number of factors, including council budgeting to spend $235m on the City Rail Link (CRL) and only spending $92m; Auckland Transport budgeting $744m and telling councillors last month it will come in at about $650m; and a new $46m source of funding from the Government not coming through.
Auckland Transport has struggled to spend its full $56m budget for walking and cycling and put its two biggest road projects - upgrading Lincoln Rd and a new Matakana link road - on hold pending more work with locals.
"We are listening" said chief executive Shane Ellison, who got roasted this year for not turning up to a public meeting in St Heliers to discuss controversial safety improvements.
Council chief executive Stephen Town said the big challenge with large transport projects like the CRL are they are long-run projects over many years. There were issues with the tenderers last year that led to less physical work, he said, but the project is still on track for completion in 2024.
Town said when AT has an ambitious programme chunked up into 12 month bites "you will get very similar unders and overs occurring".
Council aims for 90 per cent of capital works completed but often ends up between 80 and 90 per cent because of consenting and consultation issues and market pricing, he said.
"There are a lot of factors at play in trying to land your capital works programme beautifully within a 12 month window when so many of our projects are multi-year," he said.
Town said the NZ Transport Agency, which funds up to half of many transport projects, is signalling this year it has oversubscribed bids from around the country.
He did not know if it will affect this year's $1.1b capital budget for transport, saying officers are planning a workshop with councillors in August on where they think the programme will land.
Town said the latest accounts for the first nine months of last year show pleasing results for council and the CCOs and "fingers crossed we will be happy with our 30 June landing" when the final audited results are in.
- Additional reporting: Hayley Twort
HOW YOUR RATES ARE SPENT - THE SERIES:
• Today: Transport
• Tuesday: Water
• Wednesday: Parks
• Thursday: Economic and cultural development
• Friday: Environment and governance