Please endeavour to send in your feedback on these considerations prior to 19th June. Feedback can be made on-line at Emergency Budget 2020/2021 Consultation.
Auckland Council has had to propose drastic measures to manage a funding shortfall from the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. It is estimated that the Auckland region will lose $500 million in revenue over 2020-2021 due to less travel and trade through our ports and airport, and greatly reduced economic activity. Auckland Council has proposed an emergency budget which will involve deep cuts to services and capital projects. It has asked Aucklanders to submit their views on the budget and in particular respond to the proposal of a change in the planned rate increase for the next 12 months.
PFK acknowledges the significant challenge to the Auckland region due to Covid 19, though is concerned about risks to the environment in the Kaipātiki area with the reduction of funding of some key projects.
Auckland usually receives 40% of its revenue through rates. A planned rates increase of 3.5% in the current financial year will not be enough to cover the funding shortfall from the pandemic. Auckland Council is seeking feedback on whether to continue with the 3.5% rates increase or reduce this to 2.5% which would involve a major reduction in services and planned infrastructure projects.
According to the Council’s budget documents the impact on the average residential ratepayer in Kaipātiki with a rate increase of 3.5% instead of 2.5% will only be a difference of 44 cents per week or $23.04 for the year.
PFK supports the continuation of the 3.5% rate increase though has concerns that even with this outcome the proposed reductions in spending will have a serious impact on the natural environment of the Kaipātiki region.
We would encourage our members and supporters of Auckland’s natural environment to submit to Council their support for the 3.5% rates increase and to raise the following concerns with the proposed cuts.
Cuts to these areas are of particular concern:
Proposed reductions in park and track maintenance would have an effect on the mitigation of kauri dieback by delaying track upgrades and cleaning station upgrades in kauri reserves. This has been an issue PFK has been very active with due to the large amount of kauri in our area and each year that these track projects are delayed risks the destruction of our remaining kauri stands.
We would like the Council to commence immediate work on the cleaning stations in Kauri Glen and Chatswood and Lynn and Leigh reserves to protect these iconic trees for future generations to enjoy.
Under the proposed budget there will be a reduction of work funded by the Natural Environment Targeted Rate (NETR) and kauri dieback projects as well as the Regional Natural Environment Fund. We are concerned that the rate of decline of Auckland’s biodiversity continues unabated despite the Covid-19 pandemic and cutting back on projects that protect Auckland’s natural environment will lead to further pressure on our unique ecosystems. We would support the Council’s continued spending on targeted environmental projects.
There will be reduction in grants available for work of community groups such as PFK which implements forest restoration and pest plant and animal control in the Auckland region. We see this as a significant risk to the capacity we have developed over the last 3-4 years and the momentum of our supporting local volunteers who have worked hard to restore our bush and make our region a haven for birds. Community Groups are a very cost effective way of getting work done as they contribute many more volunteer work hours than would be available to Council or contractors.
Our groups and PFK activity will be very important for not only getting work done in a reserve, but also in providing those newly out of work with activity and community connection.
We would like the Council to maintain funding for continuation of established community led restoration projects.
Covid-19 and the drought have decreased Watercare’s revenue by $50 millionCutting expenditure on preventative maintenance of water infrastructure and the Water Protection Fund would delay projects focussed on improving water quality in rural areas which affect the quality of the water in the Waitemata harbour and in wastewater / stormwater management which would lead to increased risk of contamination of our local streams, waterways and beaches.
We would like Auckland Council to retain water quality improvement works.