Aucklanders have a chance to steer their destiny

Auckland’s Asian communities deserve pragmatic and prudent financial management in their City Council.

When they vote in the upcoming mayoral elections, they must have the issue of rates in mind because rates affect everyone.

We pay into the Council’s revenue stream, either directly through rates on property we own or indirectly through rents that our landlords charge. Rates burden your ability to save for home ownership, and decrease your disposable income as consumers.

So, as a part of Auckland’s community, contributing economically and socially, you have the right to know how Council spends your money.

Rates fund many things, including transport, parks, and the Council’s administrative services. The Council can raise rates every year legally.

Being this vulnerable to a governing body’s power should concern you when choosing your next Auckland Mayor.

Unwise economics

A part of the purpose behind amalgamating from eight to one Council was to establish economies of scale and to hold rates level. Instead, we have seen rates increases every year since 2010, a plan to increase rates by 5% in following years, and more money spent on Council salaries than those paid under the previous eight councils combined.

The Council should control spending, so that Aucklanders can endure sustainable rates. A Len Brown-led Council managed to keep rates at 2.9% for this fiscal year, but to do this, Mr Brown has borrowed heavily and gone into debt, costing ratepayers $1 million a day to service this interest alone.

Aucklanders will have to pay more in rates in the future to repay the debt. Is this the financial management that you want and expect from your elected Mayor?

Prudent management

If I become mayor, general rates will not go up beyond the level of inflation. I believe that we can achieve this through pragmatic and prudent financial management, and by injecting efficient business practices into Council administration.

Simply borrowing heavily to lower rates is not disciplined financial management. The Council’s financial management must be as disciplined as any other organisation of its size because we would be the future sufferers.

Financial mismanagement should not happen in Auckland’s governance.

I am dedicated to being financially pragmatic and prudent – prudent spending with respect to the Council’s limited resources but with pragmatic focus on activities that the Local Government is designed to perform.

Reducing overheads

We can achieve efficiency by reducing the complex array of committees, sub- committees, other duplicative decision-making processes, and by delegating greater responsibility for decision-making to local boards and communities.

Finding efficient ways of delivering services to Aucklanders is a prudent way to keep your rates down, not simply relying on borrowing from your future.

You have an opportunity to decide the future direction of Council financial management, either by borrowing to keep rates rising further or through prudent and pragmatic financial management that looks to remove inefficiencies and therefore reduce rates.

Your decision will impact the future of Auckland.

John Pilano is a Mayor Candidate in the forthcoming local election (October 12, 2013)

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