BUDGETS have been slashed for community projects despite hundreds of people opposing the cuts in Auckland City Council’s annual plan.
The council received 761 submissions on 47 projects earmarked to be deferred or cancelled in the draft annual plan for 2008-2009.
But none were put back on the agenda when council formally adopted the plan last week.
“The council gave good consideration to all submissions, but we also had to give consideration to common sense,” says councillor Doug Armstrong.
“The overriding consideration was to hold rates at the rate of inflation.”
He says the previous council upped rates by around 30 percent over three years and the current council was faced with turning around the “ocean liner of expenditure”.
“The public of Auckland were bleeding. We just had to go through and defer things and make sensible decisions.
“Above all else, we have to make rates affordable for the people of Auckland.”
He says although “significant minorities” submitted on particular projects, most thought the council should adopt the draft plan.
“I understand there will be groups of people who are bitterly disappointed by some of the decisions and I accept that and sympathise with them.”
Councillor Cathy Casey says the biggest disappointment was the council ignor- ing issues like volcanic cone restoration and footpath upgrades.
“I don’t think democracy has been served well. I wonder why we bother going through the annual plan process if we’re just going to say no.
“We’ve disappointed a lot of the Auckland public.”
Among the deferred projects are upgrades for the Mt Roskill and Blockhouse Bay libraries, Pt Erin Pool redevelopment and storm water improvements.
However the council did ask for more information on using some of the money earmarked for the projects to be put into restoring Pah Homestead in Hillsborough.
Rates will increase by 5.1 percent, which will mean an average of $78 a year for most residential ratepayers.
The new rates will include a uniform charge of $162 and a $210 charge for rubbish and recycling.
Councillor Aaron Bhatnagar says the uniform charges will be about an extra $1.50 a week for most residential ratepayers outside the cen- tral city. The central city residential targeted rate will increase by $3 to $55.
Metrowater’s controversial charitable payments will also be gradually phased out over three years and water price increases capped at the rate of council’s inflation.
Mr Armstrong says removing the payments in one go would have meant an extra 6.6 percent rates increase.
Council approved around $400 million for capital works and has kept $2.4m unallocated for projects not included in the budget.