Auckland Council's proposed 10-year Budget is now open for public consultation.
It is termed the "Recovery Budget" because it will play a vital role over the coming years in helping our city recover from the huge economic damage done by Covid-19.
It does this by investing at record levels in the transport, housing, and environmental infrastructure we need as a growing city, and at the same time helps boost recovery by creating jobs and incomes.
Some of it is new work, meeting the needs of projected growth in the city's population of 22 per cent. This includes a big investment in areas like rail, bus services, cycleways, and roads.
It delivers crucial investment for new freshwater treatment plants and improvements in storm and wastewater to tackle wastewater overflows that have blighted our beaches and harbours for decades.
It provides for renewals to replace ageing infrastructure like underground pipes. If this work isn't done, we will end up with a situation like other cities, where we have seen the devastating effects of pipe failures.
The total amount we are spending over the next decade on capital works goes up by 20 per cent or around $7 billion to over $31 billion.
It's absolutely critical to having a city that works, tackling congestion and housing shortages and ensuring we sustain and enhance our environment.
The budget also meets new challenges such as climate change, with an additional $150 million invested in projects like replacing diesel buses with electric; planting new native forests which serve as carbon sinks and restore our natural environment, and tackling problems like predators wiping out our native birds and kauri dieback threatening our most iconic trees.
We are spending around $55 billion over a decade in providing the services Aucklanders need, from increasing recycling and rubbish disposal to maintaining and expanding green spaces, providing libraries and community centres, sustaining our museums, zoo, and botanical gardens, and maintaining our roads, transport services and other assets worth more than $50 billion.
None of this is easy when Covid-19 has wiped $450 million from the council's revenue in the last financial year, with the loss forecast to rise cumulatively to around $1 billion by 2024.
In response to that, and to preserve essential infrastructure investment and key services, council has striven to find new efficiencies, become a leaner organisation with fewer staff and constrained salaries, get better value for money from what we do and sell surplus properties to invest the proceeds in critical infrastructure.
We will borrow a little more but keep within prudential limits. We have sustained the highest credit rating in New Zealand other than the government itself.
We have also worked hard to keep down the level of rates increases. While Wellington is proposing a rate increase of 14 per cent, we are endeavouring to keep general rate increases at 3.5 per cent per year, with a one-off increase of 5 per cent next year only, to deal with the impact of Covid-19.
The one-off increase, which represents a $38 per year increase above the 3.5 per cent rise, enables us to invest $900 million more over the next three years on essential projects. It provides for road, water and public transport projects which would otherwise have to be deferred or cancelled, with a real cost to the quality of life we enjoy.
Feedback on Auckland Council's 10-year Budget is open until March 22. It can be provided online and via email or social media, by phone or post, and in person at "Have Your Say" events taking place across the region.
Visit www.akhaveyoursay.co.nz to find out more and have your say.
• Phil Goff is Mayor of Auckland City.