Challenging changes face Aucklanders

Here we are at the start of the second term of the Auckland Council.

I love this City and I am proud of what the first Auckland Council achieved.

Aucklanders are united in a passionate debate about our future, and for the first time we have a shared vision and cohesive, interlinking plans for how to achieve that.

The second term will be no less significant as we continue to make real progress towards Auckland becoming the world’s most liveable city.

Congratulations to all new Councillors and Local Board members. I look forward to working with you all.

Major initiative

We have seen what can be achieved when Auckland joins forces – the biggest planning exercise in the country, the largest capital investment programme in Auckland’s history and becoming a world-renowned events destination, for starters.

I know change is challenging, and some of the changes have not seemed fair to some communities. But fairness and balance are critical to both Auckland’s unification and its future, two principles in our decisions.

Auckland City was the only former Council which mowed berms, for example.

We faced a choice between saving $3 million to cease mowing, bringing the area in line with the rest of Auckland or spending an additional $12 million to $15 million to mow all Auckland berms. We needed to consider what was the fair practice and what was the fairest and best use of our finances.

Rating System

Moving to a single, region wide rating system was a challenge that would face the first Mayor and Council of all Auckland, irrespective of the people in the hot seats.

Properties of equal value being rated on an equal footing is the principle, but I acknowledge that some people have not found it equitable in the transition to a capital value based rating system.

Uneven impact of the change is why we asked the Government to enable us to have a three-year transition period.

I have talked to thousands of Aucklanders over the past few months. People want to be assured that we are doing everything to keep rates low while keeping a close eye on debt and making a thoughtful, strategic investment in infrastructure, which has been neglected and underfunded for so long.

Funding mechanism

As Aucklanders, we need to have a discussion about funding – what funding mechanisms are acceptable to us for the infrastructure shortfall, how we could utilise Public-Private Partnerships and possible sponsorship agreements for day-to-day operations, such as our swimming pools.

I was elected as the Mayor for all of Auckland and I will continue to be the Mayor for all of Auckland. We have done the hard work in uniting Auckland.

Now it is time to deliver.

Editor’s Note: Len Brown was sworn in as the Mayor of Auckland at a ceremony held at the Auckland Town Hall on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 and announced that Penny Hulse will be the Deputy Mayor, also for a second term. He is seen here with her at the swearing-in ceremony. Photograph by Jay Farnworth. Read our editorials under Viewlink.

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