While Aucklanders wait in traffic, Auckland Transport spends $126k on office tapware
Phil Goff’s efforts to save money at Auckland Council are clearly coming to nothing, with the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance revealing today that Auckland Transport is sparing no expense in its new office headquarters.
The CCO is spending $11 million to refurbish the old Vodafone building in the viaduct. The figure includes $3.2m on new furniture, $126,000 on fancy tap fittings, and $40,000 bike racks. Spokesperson for the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance, Jo Holmes, is calling on the CCO to take measures to avoid unnecessary expenditure.
“Once again, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport have more money than sense on anything but core services. Sparing no expense on this move into the most costly piece of office real estate in Auckland offers ratepayers nothing. This $11 million fit-out even includes state of the art taps costing around $126,000.”
“Why Auckland Transport can’t reuse furniture from its former building, rather than sending it to the dump, is beyond belief.”
“The Council claims that their old furniture cannot fit into the new space. Surely this should have been a consideration in selecting the new site? On the one hand, they expel the virtue of moving into a smaller space, but what they’re trying to ignore is the fact that this building is costing $11 million to fit out, an extremely costly exercise.”
“Phil Goff was elected on a promise to cut unnecessary waste in Auckland Council and its CCOs. This shows that isn’t happening.”
Breakdown of budgeted expenses on Auckland Council’s refit:
See Auckland Transport’s LGOIMA responses here: www.ratepayers.nz/auckland_transport_refurb
- The total budget for the relocation is $11 million
- $6.8 million replacing the air conditioning, installing kitchenettes on each floor, installing bike racks and rebuilding the reception
- $583,000 updating technology
- $3.3 million on furniture and fittings, including $1.2 million on new desks and chairs, $126,000 on fancy tap fittings for the new kitchenettes, and $25,000 on internal building signage
- $313,000 is allocated to contingencies.
Auckland Transport consistently pleads poverty yet the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance has discovered it is spending $126,000 on taps alone for its plush new offices, the most expensive in Auckland. Is this where the money from its targeted rate which added 3% to our rates for three years in a row, because one thing’s for sure it didn’t get spent on improving roads and ending traffic congestion.
Auckland Transport is the epitome of an empire building bureaucracy feathering its own nest while achieving the sum total of nothing. If the government wants to step in and fix Auckland’s traffic woes by spending billions of taxpayer dollars then it must side-line or remove Auckland Transport’s portfolio and do the job itself. The only service Auckland Transport is good at is taking ratepayers for a ride.
Despite promising to find saving of between 3% and 6% in this year’s Council budget the hapless Goff has spent more on reports on how to save money than the Council has actually saved. This has been unearthed by the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance from a report by consultants McGreedy Winder & Co.
Phil Goff has spent more on reports on how to save money than the Council has actually saved
Is anyone really surprised? Goff is a career politician with no experience in the real world. He has spent a lifetime taking other people’s money in taxes and spending it, firstly on himself to fund his fat MP’s salary and pension, and secondly to progress his Socialist agenda. He has used our money to build bureaucracies and extend the power of the State. Asking the same bloated bureaucracies to cut costs is like asking then to sharpen their pencils with blunt axes.
Sources inside Council tell me Goff has even less clue how to run the city that the idiot Brown. His record so far certainly bears this out.
Remember Len Brown’s infamous tax, the ‘Transport Levy’ that added 3% extra to rates bills for three years, which was supposed to boost spending on transport? Well, it turns out we were all deceived.
The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance (ARA) has been suspicious for some time that the Auckland public was being kept in the dark about actual spending on transport. In reality spending on public transport has been stagnant since 2008. Present and future spending is declining. This was confirmed when the Alliance obtained a Ministry of Transport financial analysis of Auckland Council’s transport spending. This was reported on in the Herald yesterday.
Meanwhile the ARA has out the following information to its members.
Government documents show that Aucklanders were lied to
It has been obvious to the man in the street that Auckland Council is not keeping up road maintenance, building roads or car parks to cope with present, let alone future, demand. All Goff can think of doing is demand more car taxes, but now we know we’ve been lied to over one tax we can be certain another will do nothing but raise revenue for all the wasteful projects being undertaken by Council.
As I predicted Goff is nothing but another useless politician who has live so long in his privileged, taxpayer funded, bubble that all he can think of to ‘solve’ any problem is to increase the tax burden of all those who actually work for a living.
Nothing typifies the extravagant waste of ratepayers’ money by Auckland Council more than the exposure on Radion NZ today of a lavish $250 per person, invitation only, lunch laid by Council staff as part of a supposedly public consultation process.
An Auckland Councillor, Fa'anānā Efeso Collins, has written to the CEO of Auckland Council, Stephen Town, demanding to know why $15,000 of ratepayers money has been spent on wining and dining Pacific leaders at an invitation only lunch as part of its ‘public’ consultation process on Easter Trading hours. Councillor Collins has labelled the cost ‘outrageous and a huge cost to the ratepayer at about $250 per attendee, according to a report today on Radio NZ
An Auckland councillor is demanding answers over why $15,000 was spent on an invitation-only lunch to ask Pacific leaders about their views on Easter Sunday trading.
Councillor Collins is to be commended for calling this an outrageous waste of ratepayers’ money. There can be no possible justification for spending on such a lavish scale to feed a few selected ratepayers, especially as this was money allocated as part of its public consultation process.”
The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance has this to say
Ratepayers have had a bellyful of seeing their money wasted
Questions need to be asked about the judgement of Council staff and Council’s whole approach to public consultation that sees selected groups favoured for special treatment.
If Phil Goff thinks the public will not be outraged when he piles on new taxes, tolls, and unjustified rates rises instead of cutting out the vast amount of waste that is endemic throughout the whole of Council then he needs to think again.
Council staff have recently been harassing Local Boards to provide special funding to its list of favoured groups rather than consult with the public as a whole. The bureaucracy has grown fat on using our money to employ a raft of consultants, advisors, and briefing teams on a whole range of issues. If only they would stick to the basics they would have a mountain of cash. Instead, we’ve all had a gutsfull.
The Spinoff, a left wing blog sponsored by Heart of the City, a group funded through an Auckland Council targeted rate, today accused me, Jordan Williams, David Farrar, the Taxpayers Union and Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance of sending Auckland Councillors ‘white feathers’, a symbol of cowardice.
The Taxpayers’ Union issued the following media release.
The Taxpayers’ Union, its founders Jordan Williams and David Farrar, the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance, and its spokesperson Jo Holmes, totally reject the allegation made on the Spinoff website today that they have sent ‘white feathers’ (either physically or electronically) to Auckland Councillors or have acted in any unethical way in relation to the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance “Ratepayer Protection Pledge” signed by approximately a dozen Auckland Councillors, prior to last year’s elections.
The childish smear campaign is aimed at deflecting attention away from the vote in the next few days by Auckland Councillors for Goff's 2.5% rates rise, plus a ‘bed tax’, in contravention of the Auckland Ratepayers’ Pledge, signed by many of them, to keep rates at or below 2%.
3.15pm. The Spinoff has retracted the allegations, taken down the original version, including allegations that the ARA is a far-right group, and issued this apology.
Threats, legal threats and cowardice: Auckland Council’s budget battle gets nasty [UPDATED]
After weeks of flip flopping on whether or not to allow the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance (ARA) to make an oral submission on this year’s Auckland Council budget, its Budget and Finance Committee finally agreed to a meeting on Wednesday.
However, instead of presenting to an open Council committee, the meeting turned out to be a closed workshop. This allowed the Chairman, Councillor Ross Clow, to exclude the public and press. His first act as Chair was to declare the meeting ‘Confidential’. His second act was to forbid the taking of photographs.
This chilly reception only served to make Clow and Council look like they had something to hide.
Following the meeting the ARA issued the following media release.
RATEPAYERS TELL COUNCILLORS TO STICK TO PLEDGES - SPEND MORE IN INFRASTRUCTURE
The hostility towards Auckland’s largest ratepayer organisation was palpable. The message the ARA delivered was plainly one most Councillors did not want to hear
Who will be first to break the Ratepayers Pledge they signed when they wanted to get elected? .
Outraged ratepayers crashed Auckland Council’s email system last week following a letter sent out by the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance (ARA) to its members asking them to email their displeasure to Councillors who voted to exclude them from giving verbal feedback after making submissions about the budget.
The deluge of emails has caused Council to do an about turn. It has invited ARA to give a five minute presentation but the ARA is insisting all ratepayers who submitted should be given the right to make a verbal submission if they wish.
AUCKLAND COUNCIL TRY TO PLASTER OVER CONSULTATION CRACKS
Ratepayers take their democratic rights seriously. Blocking them does not go down well. Arrogant and disdainful Councillors who have little regard for those who elect them and are forced to pay their wages would do well to remember by whose grace they take their seats at the Council table.
Genesis is the name of the latest group of Waiheke busybodies wanting to ‘respond’ to what it calls the ‘housing crisis’ on Waiheke. The group is ‘committed to establishing a community housing enterprise which will build and provide affordable housing for Waihekeans’.
Sadly, it is also a back door attempt to get intensification outside the provisions of the Hauraki Gulf Islands District Plan.
This raises the following questions and probably several others:
The group includes two commercial property developers. Their interest in the scheme is self-evident. Paul Carew is a recent newcomer from Christchurch. It is to be hoped that Mark Inglis is no longer a local board advisor or this would create a huge conflict of interest, especially as a local board member is also part of the group. Christine Gisby is well known for wasting ratepayers money to fund her journeying on the Direction Matiatia gravy train.
In the background is the well documented plan by Waiheke Local Board Chairman Paul Walden for the development of his family’s 51 hectare scrubland behind Trig Hill Road just outside the current Rural Urban Boundary. The Walden family submission wants to change the District Plan so that intensive development can take place on their property, including reticulation.
Kaumatua housing is the euphemism for intensification. It implies multiple dwellings on a single property or one large dwelling with multiple bedrooms to accommodate the extended family. Hands up all those who want to live next door.
The politically correct buzzword for the Goff mayoralty of Auckland is ‘affordability’, the latest in a string of ‘abilities’ that sees it placed ahead of the previous champion ‘sustainability’. The words are all meaningless in the context in which they are used. They are there to show how much the politically correct left ‘care’ - in other words virtue signalling. Mind you they care even more if there is a buck to be made for their mates.
Housing is a central government responsibility. Any initiatives by Goff or local politicians will be an additional burden on ratepayers. Goff is now bound to intensification through the Auckland Plan. This will do nothing to improve ‘affordability’. The policy has already driven land prices into the stratosphere in Auckland. The cost of building has also been driven skywards by Auckland Council through its expensive and tortuous consenting processes.
In other words Auckland Council is the culprit in increasing house prices in Auckland and will continue to be so as long as its policy of intensification, constricting land supply and hideous consenting processes continues.
Schemes like ‘Genesis’ are old hat. It’s not as if this is the first such dabbling by local politicians. They have a 99% failure rate for obvious reasons. If the group can persuade private landowners to donate multi-million dollar land on Waiheke to the scheme and private developers to pay for the building costs, and Auckland Council to alter the provisions of the District Plan, and neighbours not to object, then good luck with that.
What would be a sin of biblical proportions would be to force taxpayers and ratepayers into subsidising the lifestyles of others. Building an ark wont stop the flooding.
Phil Goff wants to impose a ‘living wage’ on low wage Auckland Council employees. The Auckland Ratepayers Alliance has proved such a policy only leads to job losses for minimum waged Council workers. That is the experience of Wellington Council where 17 parking wardens lost their jobs as a result of Wellington’s introduction of the Socialist virtue signalling doctrine last year.
TIME FOR PHIL GOFF TO SEE SENSE ON LIVING WAGE
No sooner had the ARA issued its media release than the Wellington Council CEO Kevin Lavery conceded the criticism levelled at it in the NZ Taxpayers’ Union Report.
KEVIN LAVERY ADMITS A LIVING WAGE POLICY SHUTS OUT THE MINIMUM WAGED FROM COUNCIL JOBS
So everyone loses out: low wage workers lose their job and ratepayers, often on fixed incomes below the minimum wage, are forced to subsidise higher wages. If no economies are made in the organisation the higher wages will be passed on in the form of higher rates.
Once upon a time Labour was the champion of the low paid. Not any more. It is the party of inner city elites enjoyed high incomes on the backs of the productive sectors of the economy who are forced to hand over ever greater portions of their incomes to pay for protected jobs in the state sector. Thanks a lot Phil.
Following concerted pressure from fiscally responsible Councillors and the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance, Goff capitulated and agreed to full public consultation on a range of rates rise options from 2 to 3.5% in next year’s budget.
Before yesterday’s Auckland Council Budget and Finance Committee meeting the only figure on the table was Phil Goff’s 2.5% pledge. As reported on Wednesday’s blog, this was concerning for those who had signed the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance pre-election pledge that they would keep rates rises to 2% during the next three years. At the end of the meeting they had forced Goff to include a 2% option to go out to public consultation.
This was a victory for the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance who put pressure on Councillors on Wednesday by issuing a media release calling for the inclusion of the 2% option.
LOW RATES OPTION MUST BE INCLUDED IN BUDGET CONSULTATION
Only Bill Cashmore voted against. South Auckland take note. Cashmore is ostensibly a National Party man but his past record shows he is noting but a Socialist wolf in sheep's clothing.
This afternoon new Mayor Phil Goff has announced he wants to place a visitor levy on every tourist coming to Auckland so that he can pay for his wish list of expensive new projects, like light rail along Dominion Road to the airport, moving the port and a new waterfront stadium.
As predicted pre-election, Goff will be looking for new taxes, levies, and charges to fund his wasteful spending so that he can keep his promise of rates rises no greater than 2.5%.
Less than two months into being elected, Goff wants Auckland Council to consider pegging Aucklander’s annual rate to 2.5 per cent while accommodation providers must collect a visitor levy.
That’s right, let’s add to the tax and collection burden of countless small business and damage the main driver of the Auckland economy, tourism, at the same time. Good thinking, Batman.
The plan, along with other Goff proposals such as a targeted rate for new large-scale developments and a regional fuel tax, would support Auckland’s growth, he said.
Why doesn’t Goff opt for the more obvious way of raising money, which is to cut wasteful spending, instead of increasing taxes. Goodness knows there’s enough wasteful spending around, what with ATEED’s proposed re-branding, as well as paying for the re-branding of lobby groups like Cycle Action to change their name to Bike Auckland.
The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance has issued the following press release.
HOW ABOUT A STOP TO RIDICULOUS SPENDING RATHER THAN A TAX ON TOURISM AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
Only a dyed-in-the-wool Socialist could believe that increasing taxes will be good for the Auckland economy.
Some people just don’t know when to stop digging. Brett O’Riley, boss of Auckland Council CCO ATEED, is still trying to justify wasting over $500,000 of our money on his new brand of bland for Auckland, “the place desired by many”. Despite criticism from the new Mayor, Councillors and Aucklanders he is determined to press ahead with the disastrous re-branding exercise that has made Auckland once again the laughing stock of the nation.
The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance has issued another press release condemning O’Riley’s arrogant refusal to let it go.
ATEED HEAD "LIVING THE LIFE OF RILEY"
Auckland enjoys an international reputation as the City of Sails. It’s the only ‘brand’ that has ever stuck, despite endless tinkering by new Mayors and Councils. O’Riley should be getting back to the tried and true rather than wasting our money on his elite band of politically correct funkies, pals in the PR business and tribal barons.
Goff needs to take charge and tell his CEO, Stephen Town, and his head of ATEED to toe the line or lose your job. Otherwise he will be regarded as nothing more than Len Brown lite.
Last week I attended two local board inauguration ceremonies, Waiheke and Orakei. I was invited to Orakei to support my friend and colleague from the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance, Carmel Claridge, who was elected onto the local board there. The two meetings stood in stark contrast with one another.
Opening ceremonial is dictated by the bureaucrats at Auckland Council and is dominated by tribal sensibilities. This has its place. It can be executed with dignity and be mindful of the many cultures, religions and customs represented in the audience. Such was the Orakei ceremony. A short greeting was given in Maori by local Kaumatua Wirihana (Bob) Hawke, a leading member of Auckland’s foremost iwi Ngati Whatua. He translated as he went, and delivered his short speech with humour and grace. Mindful of his audience, he spoke, mostly in English, of his deep connection with Orakei where he grew up and has lived all his eighty odd years.
He introduced us to his sisters, who joined him to sing a waiata, a prayer in Maori and sang one verse of the hymn ‘Abide with me’. It was inclusive, thoughtful and, above all, short. What he did not do was insist his audience joined him in his Christian ceremonial. In fact, he made a point of acknowledging that New Zealand is a secular country and that this was reflected in the make-up of the audience.
As Kaumatua Hawke said, this was about welcoming new board members: it was their night. Otene Reweti, representing Auckland Council, made the formal reply on behalf of Council, as he had also on Waiheke.
The whole ceremonial introduction lasted around fifteen minutes. It reminded me of similar dignified ceremonies we used to have on Waiheke under the leadership of Kaumatua Kato Kauwhata of Waiheke’s Piritahi Marae.
What happened on Waiheke was a complete contrast. Tribal grandstanding by Ngato Paoa, whose members all live off island, dominated the proceedings for the first forty minutes. It was deliberately exclusive, long and discourteous. The ceremony was delivered almost completely in Maori, with the audience being ordered to stand and sit (in English of course). Whether the audience knew it or not, this was because they were taking part in a Christian ceremony. I remained seated because I am an atheist.
As with the opening ceremony, so with the formal meeting. Though the format was the same, the Orakei meeting was conducted with decorum. Despite similar power struggles taking place behind the scenes in both wards (the only real power sits with the Chair), the Orakei Board had resolved all their differences prior to the meeting so they could present a unified face to the public. This is important for the electorate. Waiheke factional undercurrents were not so well hidden. The outcome in both was the same with split Chair and Deputy Chair positions.
Colin Davis, the newly elected Orakei Chair, gave an excellent speech outlining the need for local boards to reassert the co-governance model intended by the Auckland Act. This was followed by a short, but sweet, speech by former Chair of the Orakei Local Board, Desley Simpson, who is now the board’s Councillor on Auckland’s Governing Body, representing the Mayor.
After that, the Board then actually got on with business. It immediately reasserted its authority over Council bureaucrats, who had decreed that Remuera library would not open over Christmas, by reversing this illegal decision. Decision making authority for libraries rests with local boards not bureaucrats.
It took just over an hour from start to finish to conclude the Orakei meeting. Meanwhile, two hours after the Waiheke meeting started, we were still being bored to death by Phil Goff to be followed by the equally banal Mike Lee.
Future Waiheke meetings need to be more respectful of the various communities that make up the island mix. There needs to be less grandstanding and more business being conducted. That is what we actually pay them for.
Who asked ATEED to spend megabucks on re-branding Auckland? It certainly wasn’t Auckland Council’s Governing Body and it certainly wasn’t Phil Goff, despite him saying he wants to ditch Len Brown’s ill-fated ‘most liveable city’.
According to Brian Rudman in the Herald ATEED has been working on a new brand for the last two years.
Over the past two years, Auckland Council's marketing and promotion arm, Ateed, has spent $527,000 (that's as of June 31, 2016) on Global Auckland, a major rebranding project.
Did Len Brown know this was going on? Obviously not! Was the re-branding exercise in ATEED’s budget and approved by Councillors? I doubt it. Where, therefore, did approval, and the money come from for ATEED to spend a whopping $527,000 on the ‘exercise’. Once again it seems it is Auckland Council’s out-of-Controlled Organisations and their bureaucrats who are pulling the strings.
Re-branding is nothing but very expensive vanity. It is usually a failure, as noted further into Rudman’s column. The one exception being ‘City of Sails’. I saw a question in a recent international quiz ‘What city is known as the City of Sails?’ Answer: Auckland, despite the brand not being officially in use for over a decade.
Here is the perfect opportunity for Goff to show his bureaucrats he’s in charge and that he will show ratepayers that he can act in a fiscally responsible manner. He should tell ATEED to stop wasting ratepayers’ money in a meaningless exercise that has already cost too much and, if implemented, would cost millions more.
If he doesn’t, he will signal to his Council that they do not matter, that it is the bureaucrats who are still in charge and ratepayers’ can stop expecting any sort of fiscal prudence under this mayoralty.
I confess I'm with John Banks on this one. The idea that a perfect brand, will magically make citizens feel great, and suck tourists and businessmen down to this remote corner of the world, to shower us with their hard earned dollars, seems rather silly.
Yes, it is: silly, unnecessary and very expensive.
Goff’s ‘big’ idea is light rail (trams). Like Len Brown before him Goff wants to stamp his mark on Auckland with a vanity project that will cost megabucks and do nothing to relieve the city’s worsening traffic congestion. With Brown it was the black hole under central Auckland, the tunnel for the City Rail Link: with Goff it’s light rail –which he thinks is a road.
Kiwiblog takes up the story.
Did Little even talk to Goff on his bribe?Radio NZ reports:
The truth is there is no money in the kitty. The cost of the CRL continues to rise while Auckland’s credit card is maxed out. Auckland Council debt per household is over $20,000. A pathetic Goff has only one solution – get everyone in New Zealand, courtesy of central government, to contribute. Goff is already blaming his failure as mayor on central government, like any failed Labour leader would.
His lacklustre performance at his swearing in ceremony yesterday doesn’t bode well. His speech was summed up in one sentence by the left wing Radio NZ: ‘in a speech uninterrupted by applause, Mr Goff failed to commit to specific goals’. Ouch!
Goff the Gormless, Goff the Grey.