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Monday, 14 July 2008

AUCKLAND SHORT-CHANGES US ON ROADS

There are islanders who say that only the Auckland City Council has the money to keep our roads maintained. That is not correct. There is enough collected on the island in rates and charges to do what is needed, especially if millions were not carted off to the isthmus or wasted here. And if Auckland was not running things so ineptly we could get all the roading money from the government that we are entitled to, and it is doubly fair that we should because we are a tourist destination so we should get all the taxpayer subsidies on roading. But we are not.

Under Land Transport New Zealand's rules a 43% subsidy is available for maintenance and road renewal, and a 53% subsidy for new roads. But to get that your council has to make sure all its i's are dotted and its t's crossed, otherwise ratepayers will have to pay the whole cost. Auckland has not been serving us well, because over the last four years, on the figures it has supplied on a request under the Local Government Official Information & Meetings Act (LGOIMA), it has got the Hauraki Gulf Islands an average subsidy of only 16.43%.

Thames-Coromandel District Council does a far better job. The average subsidy from its last annual report, covering the last two years, was 42%.

If Auckland had been doing as well, it would have got the islands an extra $13.595 million. It didn't, so the ratepayers had to fork out that much more.

For Waiheke alone, from 2002/2003 to 2007/2008, they have to fork out an extra $4.310m, because Auckland got only $5.980 of subsidy when it should have got $10.295m (on figures supplied by Auckland under LGOIMA) if it too had been getting 42%.

The fact that Auckland's shonky management is depriving us of the full LTNZ subsidy also skews its expenditure figures for Waiheke. In 2006/2007 it collected $15.1 million off us and spent $19.6 million. But $2.45 million of that was our 'allocation' for 'governance'--i.e., what we paid, on top of the $1.7 million we paid for our own service centre, to prop up the empire over the water. On top of that we paid $614,000 to Auckland's roading and transport. That totals $3.1 million. Knock that off $19.6, and it comes down to $16.5, which would have made us only $1.4 million over income. But then it missed out on $1.1 million of Land Transport subsidy for us, so we should have been only $300,000 over breaking even. That would have been easy to save, because we could easily slice 10% off Auckland's wastage--i.e., $1.5 million--so we should have been quids in.

The more of Auckland's mediocre performance one uncovers the more one thinks that that outfit could not manage its way out of the proverbial wet paper-bag with the help of nuclear weapons and a squadron of bulldozers.