It's election time - so expect to hear a lot about a debt crisis and runaway rates at Auckland Council. But is that really the case? Simon Wilson takes a look.

Wow, Auckland Council and its finances, eh? "There's a billion-dollar debt blowout and it's got this guy's fingerprints all over it," said John Tamihere at a debate in Newmarket last week.

"JT", who wants to be the mayor, was pointing one of his own fingers at the man who currently is the mayor, Phil Goff. Tamihere also said Goff was levying "stealth taxes", and council spending is "out of

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Is spending out of control?

What about that budget blowout on the City Rail Link?

Is the debt level high?

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Is borrowing out of control?

Is council spending subject to any kind of review?

Is the council building its asset base?

Are rates rising too fast?

What about those "stealth taxes"?

Does the council use innovative tools to manage its finances?

Are staff levels rising?

Is there a problem with council spending?

What's going to happen next term?

Are council officials secretive and out of control?