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Friday, 14 September 2007

WAIHEKE'S MONEY GROSSLY SPENT IN AUCKLAND

The lead story in Gulf News in the issue that came out on Wednesday the 5th of September, and Liz's accompaying editorial, on the exorbitant sum that Auckland trucks off the island (nearly $1900 for every man, woman and child) were brilliant, and again underlined Gulf News' imense value to Waiheke.

But why did it take Gulf News to dig out that information? Why does the Community Board not keep on top of those figures as a normal part of its operation? Members must, under the Local Government Act 2002, promise in writing to act to the best of their judgement and ability in the best interests of the island; and the Board must be an advocate to the Council ditto. It should therefore watch the money, and know all its comings and goings.

The information supplied by the Council raises many questions and rings many alarm-bells, such as the fact that we contribute far more to run Auckland than to run Waiheke. $3 million is spent on the Auckland side of the water, pouring into general running-costs, roading and transport. Roading! North Shore residents, even Hamiltonians, use Auckland's road far more than Waihekeans. What do Auckland's roads have to do with us? We are an island. If you drive off the edge you get wet and go nowhere but down. Only a fraction of our vehicles can go off on the ferry. Has no one on the Council noticed that?

With nothing to check against we must assume that all the figures are true, but I was intrigued by the figure for the Community Board's operation. $154,000 looks high, because each member is paid $10,000 and the chairman $20,000, which makes a total of $60,000. Adding a bit of the salaries of the Councillor and assisting officers for their attendances surely could not explain the other $94,000. So what was it spent on?