Is Len on the right track?
Those who lived through it will remember Mayor Robbie’s near despair in the 1960s when his newly finished pet project, the Manukau sewage system, gave off unexpected nightly clouds of choking and burning fumes.
It was a nightmare for him, asthmatics and home owners. It blackened his project and houses as far away as Remuera and to the south of Mangere.
There won’t be fumes off the projected Auckland rail link project – but there will be sparks and emotional heat from an unexpected aftermath.
In the great days of steam, when the night express stopped at places like Te Kuiti and Frankton, a railway man walked the length of the train tapping wheels with a special hammer while passengers stormed the refreshment counter for pies and black tea.
I don’t know why. Perhaps more time on the preparations – and the equivalent of that tapping process – would pick up possible problems and benefit planning, funding and construction of the new rail system.
What it doesn’t need is unnecessary hustling by the mayor to keep his ownership of the plan intact should ratepayers with long memories, for one thing or another, vote him out as mayor in 2016.
Particularly, when the council must dig deep to simultaneously save $2.8 billion over the next decade.
Councillors are dealing with what has been reported as coming after four years of big spending from Mr Brown who doubles as city treasurer.
City debt has increased by 87 per cent, from $3.9 billion to $7.3 bill. Households have had rate increases of up to 38 per cent.
If Auckland was a company and ratepayers were shareholders, their budgets would be hard hit by that debt which the city must cope with – and Mr Brown would be asked to explain. Or else. Have ratepayers ever been asked for their views on debt that high?
If, as is suggested, the mayor holds the spending reins as the city treasurer, then the figures make plain that this new spending process isn’t working.
The financial state of the council can be read as a breakdown in the accepted duty of individual councillors to monitor and, where necessary, reconsider decisions already made.
The council is buying properties for the City Rail Link which has not yet been approved. Dick Quax says ‘‘it’s silly’’.
More than that, crous.
With $35 million already spent on houses and businesses – 27 of the 73 needed for underground services and surface entrances – the council will need to spend around $100 million to clinch the route for the $2.86 billion rail link.
The Government is committed to splitting that cost with the council, but won’t hand over its share until 2020 unless rail use and employment force a change.
Brown wants the project begun in 2016.
His reason, apart from giving him a more comfortable place in the city history: That an early start would cut disruption and, in his words, ‘‘provide a more effective and investment-friendly approach’’ in the development of the CBD above the rail link and around its entrances.
Perhaps more time in the preparations – and the equivalent of that wheel tapping process on funding and planning – would pick up possible problems in the funding and construction.
What it doesn’t need is unnecessary hustling by the mayor, irritating the Government, as if he’s keeping long term ownership of the plan should ratepayers with long memories vote him out in two years.
for David Lange’s famous diet in crisis-like aspects of Rogernomics – ‘‘a cuppa tea’’.
After all, John Key has experience of (public) cups drunk with fringe politicians to solve problems.
Grand plan: Light rail, as seen here in Portugal is part of the mayor’s Auckland wish list. But is it time to sit back and rethink the concept?