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.
The whole Metiria Turei debacle has exposed the truth about the Greens. They embrace systematic fraud and deceit and are proud to do so. It defines them. The reaction of their followers on Twitter under the #IamMetiria hashtag is an admission that their followers too are beneficiary cheats. Green is indeed the new orange. They all belong in prison.
For the many who pay their taxes, feed their families, are honest, hard-working and do not resort to ripping off their fellow man, the Greens pose a huge threat to society. Their leaders send the message to all law-abiding citizens that there is one rule for the elite few lawmakers who do not have to abide by the law, and another for all you suckers out there who have your money confiscated by the State and are thrown in prison if you fail to pay up.
They are modern reincarnations of the robber barons of old, stealing the money from honest citizens so they can live the high life in their protected, pensioned, elite luxury. They know how to play the system form the cradle to the grave. They are rip off merchants, charlatans and parasites. Turei is the paradigm but take a look at any Green MP and you will find a similar story. They have found that being in politics is a very profitable enterprise.
Not only do they rip off the system but they teach their members how to do it through their charitable trusts. Here on Waiheke, where our Green MP manipulates the local board, her politicians feed ratepayers money in the form of grants into ‘charitable trusts’ run by the Greens . Under cover of these trusts are very profitable businesses which pocket the proceeds. They pay no rent or rates on their ratepayer funded premises, use volunteer labour so they pay virtually no wages, are unaccountable, compete with local businesses, and return no money to the ratepayers or benefit to who fund them.
Nobody should be surprised. The Greens philosophy is one of Cultural Marxism which embraces identity politics, promotes entitlement, and supports all causes that undermine western civilisation. They stopped caring about the environment decades ago, although their useful idiot followers are still fooled into supporting them because they want to feel virtuous. If they didn’t know it before they must know now that the Greens are the very antithesis of virtue.
The Labour Party must be rueing the day they got in bed with these fraudsters. They too have been played for fools and are only now waking up to the mess they have got themselves into. The Greens have taken their votes, while Labour has got nothing from the deal they made earlier this year. Labour is rapidly backtracking but I fear it’s too late. The voters will think they are guilty by association.
The main worry is how her admission of benefit fraud is going down with voters.
It is becoming increasingly clear New Zealand First will hold the balance of power after the election. Winnie is no fool. Even for the baubles of office he would not taint himself by aligning with the Greens. A Labour/Green/NZFirst coalition would break down in days. They are incompatible. However, a coalition with National, however distasteful to National, could be very much on the cards. It would also be good for the country and drag National away from some of its dafter policies that have promoted racial disharmony and unbridled immigration.
This election might well see the end of the Greens. I fervently hope so. They are parasites on society who deserve nothing more than being sent back to the black hole of oblivion where they belong.
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.
Chairman of the Waiheke Local Board, Paul Walden, will make future rates and rent rises go off the charts if he gets the Mayor to agree to allowing him to target rate the community on top of Auckland Council’s own rates rises.
Walden knows a targeted rate is the only way he can ever make good on delivering promises he has so far failed to keep, like a swimming pool. I explained this in a blog over three years ago, after Walden had decided to ditch the process whereby Auckland Council would pay for a community pool, the only viable alternative for the island. Instead he opted to go it alone with a school pool, paid for through rates but denying access for ratepayers during school hours.
He is apparently still at odds with the community’s own Swimming Pool Committee who want a swimming pool on Council, not school, land so that the community has access as well as the schools. Either way, rates would go through the roof to pay for the enterprise.
An independent report commissioned by Walden and Auckland Council’s own assessment commissioned by the first Waiheke Local Board both report the building cost will be $5-7million, probably more now that another three years has elapsed. There are approximately 5000 rateable properties on the island so each property would be targeted rated between $1000 and $1400 to pay for the building. Even if this is defrayed over 10 years the annual target rate would be around $200 by the time interest costs are taken into account.
But that is only the thin end of the wedge. Ongoing maintenance would be around $500,000 to a $1million each year, so add another $100 or $200 on top. The average rate bill on the island is around $3000. Add $300-400 on top and you’ve got 10% plus rates rises to add to Auckland Council’s rates every year. Then there’s the entrance fee to pay on top of that. Walden will want his children to have free access.
These spiralling rates will affect renters as well as homeowners as rents will have to rise by 10%pa.
Walden is well known for wasting ratepayers’ money and is the last person on Earth who should be entrusted with being able to tax the community. He has squandered millions already during his four year tenure as Board Chair by undertaking such vanity projects as the bridle bridge to nowhere for his horses, the bridle path to nowhere for his horses and a car park outside the home of his mentor, hard left Green Party List MP Denise Roche. He has diverted funding meant for infrastructure into the trust funds of his favourite groups without any tangible benefits for the community as a whole.
It would be a very sad day for Waiheke if Walden becomes a Tax Gatherer was well as a Tax Spender.
Targeted rate looms to pay for Waiheke school pool
Targeted rate for Waiheke causes a stink
The NZ Taxpayers Union has just issued a media release saying perceptions of local government in the country at an all-time low. This follows publication of the latest ‘Local Government Survey’ conducted by Colmar Brunton. It is hardly a surprising result given rates have been rising five times faster than inflation over the last ten years while services have never been worse.
New survey shows perceptions of local government at all time low
Auckland has done more than its fair share to bring down the reputation of local government through the disastrous Len Brown years when rates rises hit a hundred times the annual rate of inflation, basic local services deteriorated and debt spiralled to over $20,000 for every man woman and child. At the same time, local services deteriorated, the bureaucracy took control and wasteful spending blossomed. With fiscal prudence out the window and another tax and spend Labour mayor in place things are only getting worse. No wonder the Auckland experience stopped the local government amalgamation train dead in its tracks as the rest of New Zealand looked on in horror.
Meanwhile the National government seems hell bent on bringing local government into further disrepute with its latest tinkering of the Resource Management Act. This trashes democracy by imposing unelected Maori commissars onto local councils to appease the Maori Party vote. Disgusting!
No wonder the New Zealand public thinks local government stinks.
Local resident Roger Hutton asks why there has been nothing done to ease the parking crisis impacting all Waiheke residents despite the Local Board wasting $150,000 on an unqualified lobby group with no expertise in transport planning to come up with a plan for the future of Matiatia.
It is interesting to note that this week one of our local papers has an article captioned ‘What needs to happen at Matiatia?’
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.
No wonder the public distrusts politicians, especially politicians who make promises in order to get elected and then have no compunction in breaking them at the first opportunity. Yesterday several Councillors who signed the Ratepayers’ Pledge to hold rates rises to no more than 2% voted instead for rates to rise by 2.5% this year. They also voted for an increase in Council wages and introduction of a bed tax, promoted by Desley Simpson of all people, on businesses in order to fund ATEED, a profligate and wasteful Council CCO.
The Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance has issued the following media release.
Councillors break election promises – impose risky hotel tax
The imposition of a dodgy tax that will harm businesses in order to keep ATEED afloat is particularly galling. ATEED wastes more money than most. They pay for their staff to junket at our expense to the Olympics, maintain expensive overseas offices, and have some of the highest number of executives paid over $150,000 pa. There is no evidence that their profligate spending has resulted in any net benefit to Auckland. Instead at the sharp end of their jurisdiction where visitors arrive at the destinations and need local services they have closed nearly all their visitor information offices.
Never once has Goff considered cutting out any wasteful spending in Council, its bureaucracy or its CCOs.
Those Councillors who have sold out Auckland’s ratepayers so they can be in his ‘inner circle’ have betrayed the people they represent.
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]
It is conceivable that there are still some on the island who believe the last local board election delivered a change from doing nothing to at least achieving something. If so they now know that they are wrong.
The summary of the local board plan, delivered to some (but not all) Waiheke households, and laughingly called ‘Help Shape Waiheke’s Future’, tells us that your local board plans to achieve the sum total of nothing. In other words your local politicians aim to sit back for another three years without achieving anything while leading a cushy life at the ratepayers' expense.
The draft plan is full of words that are music to ears of Council bureaucrats because they don’t have to do much work and don’t have to deliver any projects. The meaningless weasel words that fill every line of the plan are ‘support, develop, monitor, pursue, assess, improve, identify, scope’. And what are they ‘support, develop, monitor, pursue, assess, improve, identify, scope’ ‘ing? Why plans of course. These are the ‘outcomes’ promised in the plan’s preamble.
There is only one mention, among its 35 proposals, of delivering anything tangible. That is to deliver ‘wetland restoration and regeneration projects’, something put in place in the long term plan and budgeted for by the first Waiheke Local Board.
This plan speaks volumes about the naivety of the new members of the board if, and it’s a big if, they wanted to effect change. They cast in their lot with Walden at the beginning and so we have got a plan that changes nowt. For Handley in particular the plan is a betrayal of all those who voted for her. They wanted to stop the flow of their money into the hands of unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable ‘Trusts’ who received hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars and delivered nothing. They wanted to stop the waste of their money on useless bridle bridges to nowhere. Handley promised them these things wouldn’t happen on her watch. Now we know differently. There it is again - ‘using community grants to support community led activities’. In other words hundreds of thousands more to the Waiheke Resources Trust for the benefit of the friends and family of the local Green Party MP while the community gets nothing.
It is projects that attract budgets. A project is something like ‘build a new library’, ‘provide ten new footpaths’, ‘build a swimming pool’, ‘increase parking spaces by 300 at Matiatia’. Real goals are specific, measurable and action-orientated. Without these in the plan there will be no funding from the governing body of Auckland Council to make the desperately needed improvements to cope with our growing local and visitor population.
Waiheke has another Walden-style do nothing, achieve nothing backward looking board. It’s no use bleating about lack of parking spaces, or no visitor information office, or unsafe footpaths if these are the people you voted for.
What you local board has promised is no future at all.
Winston Peters has revealed the cost of Auckland’s undemocratic, unelected race based elites (the Independent Maori Statutory Board) attempt to overturn democracy in the courts is close to $300,000.
The IMSB has tried over and over again to extort money by claiming any site they fancy has ‘cultural’ significance, despite providing no evidence to back up their claims. Sadly, they forced some hapless ratepayers into paying tens of thousands for flimsy pieces of paper called ‘Cultural Impact Assessments’ just so they could finally get a resource consent.
This rort was thrown out of the Auckland Unitary Plan. Since then Maori spent nearly $300,000 of ratepayers’ money taking Auckland Council to court. Maori, of course, never pay for anything themselves. The courts threw out the IMSB appeal.
The total cost to the ratepayer, who had to pay for both sides of the litigation, was close to a $1 miilion. The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance has issued the following media release.
MĀORI STATUTORY BOARD’S $270K LEGAL BILL AN ABUSE OF PROCESS
NZ First is warning rate and taxpayers that huge legal bills will be coming their way given National’s racially based changes to the Resource Management Act.
When it comes to Maori all the general public of New Zealand has to do is pay and pay and pay again. The cost of corporate welfare for Maori race based elites is enormous. It runs into billions. That is money that will never find its way into helping lift the poorest Maori out of poverty, or pay to educate them how to stand on their own two feet, or keep them out of prison.Far from National realising its promise of stopping the Treaty of Waitangi gravy train it has simply shovelled more fuel on the fire.
The train is now travelling as fast as it can with ever more outrageous claims fuelled by appeasement that can never work. Only Winston Peters is prepared to tackle the growing threat to democracy…”unless there is a major change of course come September.”
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? .
Skypath, the cycle activist’s wet dream of a bridge just for them attached to the Auckland Harbour Bridge, has been dealt another blow. This time it’s the major public roading construction firm Downers that has pulled out of the deal citing complexity. The cycle activist directors are now saying the Public Private Partnership deal struck with Auckland Council can be re-negotiated. We all know what that means – more ratepayers’ money.
Skypath was sold to financially illiterate Auckland Councillors on the promise that it would be self funding. However, they made the stupid undertaking that if it wasn’t, Auckland ratepayers would pick up the tab.
Comments on the Whaleoil blog are spot on .
What that means is that the job is far more complex than planned, and experts like Downer say it can’t work…for them…or anyone else. But note that there are now talks of altering the PPP…in other words the project is now about to get a whole lot more expensive. This always happens with marginal projects like this…and the politicians don’t care, it’s not their money.
Nobody has caused more waste of money or traffic congestion in Auckland than cycle activists. They control the transport planners who have wasted hundreds of millions on cycle lanes designed solely to narrow roads and increase congestion with the aim of forcing the public to use expensive, subsidised public transport.
The trouble is public transport is very, very expensive, especially when it has to be retrofitted as in Auckland. Expecting ratepayers to pick up the tab for massive transport infrastructure is one of idiocies of the age. All transport is inter-connected, from the road outside your house in Auckland to the highway to Bluff. It should be taken out of the hands of ratepayers and paid for by taxpayers. This would allow rates to be brought under control instead of forever outstripping inflation while money is directed to the most beneficial and cost effective transport solutions for the nation as a whole.
Cycle and pedestrian access across the Waitemata harbour would then be part of the next, long overdue harbour bridge. It would mean the snowflakes of Cycle Auckland would have to wait a while, but better that than create yet another long term burden for Auckland’s hard-pressed ratepayers.
How Skypath is fleecing ratepayers
Skypath another Heart of the City debacle in the making?
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.
In an extraordinary vote Auckland Councillors have decided to prevent the biggest ratepayer group, the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance, representing over 16000 ratepayers, making a submission on the annual budget. I said in a letter to all our supporters, ‘Councillors voted only to hear from their own group of "sock puppet" organisations like the Property Council (which the Council uses our money to fund)’
Here is the full text of the letter.
The Terrible Ten who voted against freedom of speech includes some surprising names, particularly the formerly fiscally responsible Councillor Denise Lee and the successor to Cameron Brewer in Orakei, Desley Simpson. Brewer would never have voted for such a denial of free speech. Can these two now be trusted to have the interests of ratepayers at heart?
Whatever I think of Mike Lee and Cathy Casey, they are both people of principle who believe in democracy. To their credit they are among the six voting for free speech along with Daniel Newman, Greg Sayers, Wayne Walker and Chris Fletcher.
It defies belief that a former leader of the Labour Party and now Mayor of Auckland can have so little regard for democracy that he would refuse to even listen to the largest ratepayers organisation in the country. What has Goff and his cabal of anti-democratic councillors got to fear from listening to the voice of those who pay their wages? Nothing! But it seems they are too scared of ratepayers to even grant them a hearing. This does not bode well for the future of the city.
Goff is facing a backlash from Councillors over his proposal to levy a targeted rate on hotels and motels, referred to as a bed tax. According to The Spinoff he doesn’t have the numbers to pass it.
This follows intense lobbying from tourism owners in Auckland who say the tax would be unfair and probably illegal.
Goff is headed for his first major defeat, and it’s over the bed tax
The tax could only be levied on the property owner. Most big hotels are leased. The landlords have long term fixed leases with their tenants. It might be some time before the tax could be passed on in the form of higher hotel room rates. Meanwhile smaller mum and dad accommodation operators who own their own land and buildings could well find themselves out of business. Many operate on small margins. They would be forced to pass on the tax to clients making them more uncompetitive and that is blatantly unfair.
Len Brown bankrupted the city with his vanity projects, especially the City Rail Link. To ensure his ‘Think Big” projects lived on after his tenure as mayor he entered legally binding contracts that would prove too costly to cancel. In other words he handed his successor a poisoned chalice.
Brown racked up so much debt Goff cannot fund his own pet projects through more borrowing. The credit card is maxed out. Brown’s vanity projects are experiencing cost blow outs. The present government is not keen to give the mayor the power to raise new taxes. At the same time he is committed to a 2.5% rates rise which is insufficient to meet the needs of current let alone future projects.
Of course Goff does have options. He could find savings. He could decrease the budgets to his CCOs. ATEED, far from requiring more money from a new bed tax could find big savings by cutting its bloated bureaucracy, big salaries, overseas ambassadors, overseas jollies, name change think tanks, and other frills and furbelows that are not core business. The same goes for all CCOs. The same goes for Auckland Council’s own overpaid, under performing bureaucrats.
Goff should stop thinking up more, expensive grandiose projects like the waterfront stadium or moving the port, and concentrate in getting back to basics. Given the recent lesson handed to Council by the flooding following heavy rains it is more imperative than ever for Council to provide core services like adequate drainage and flood control.
If he pursues his bed tax idea he will most likely end up getting fleas.
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.
A Westland District Council manager awarded an Auckland cake decorator’s firm a $7 million contract to build a sewage plant an investigation by Stuff (Fairfax Media) has revealed. Now the Serious Fraud Office has been called in.
The sorry saga raises a number of questions about the state of local government in New Zealand.
A new business, run by a cake decorator, which had no track record in waste management won a Westland District Council project to build a $7 million sewage plant in Franz Josef, a Stuff investigation has found.
Westland District Council contracted Opus Consulting, a company that is deep in the local government trough throughout New Zealand, to advise the cost of possible solutions. They came up with the $7 million price tag. The new Council rejected the deal and instead opted for a solution that will only cost ratepayers $1 million. Thanks goodness for elections.
Goel had a history of bankruptcy. Despite this background he was still hired by Council as its Asset and Contracts Manager. The whole sorry saga smacks of corruption similar to the recent corruption case against an Auckland Transport manager. Is it any wonder the Serious Fraud Office has been called in to investigate in Westland, but how could this happen in the first place? Where were the checks and balances? Whose head will roll?
The answer is that there are no longer any checks and balances on local government in New Zealand. Ratepayers find their money going into dodgy Trust Funds, handed out as grants instead of providing essential services, and Council bureaucrats running their own highly political agendas without any care for the purpose of local government.
The government has done nothing to tighten up accountability in local government. Instead it has allowed local government to become a byword for corrupt practices. Changes to the Local Government Act introduced by National have done nothing to stop the slide because the Act lacks any teeth.
Fairfax has done a good job uncovering this nasty story and bringing to the attention of the wider public. Social media, especially through Whaleoil and Kiwiblog, is also playing its part in shining the light on local government rorts. The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance acts a watchdog on the waste that is endemic in Auckland Council.
Local government is in serious need of reform if the nation’s decent into corruption is to be reversed.
The ultra expensive bright pink twinkle paint used to adorn the ‘Lightpath’ cycleway in central Auckland has failed just a year after the opening of the $18 million project.
The special paint was supplied by a company called Resin Surfaces at an extra cost to the ratepayers of Auckland of $270,000. Ratepayers have now been told they will be footing the $115,000 repair bill because Council was in fact penny-pinching over the original amount. Apparently, the repair work is not under warranty because the contractor allegedly told Auckland Transport they needed to add a sunscreen coating but failed to do so.
The pathway could have been painted with the tried and tested green paint supplied by the same company for all cycleways and bus lanes. This would have been the most cost effective solution for Auckland ratepayers who were footing the bill. However, the lobby group Bike Auckland and their activists deeply embedded in Auckland Transport staff wanted to make this particular cycleway – it cost $18 million – ‘special’. Their ‘special’ friend, the general manager at Resin Surfaces, the company profiting from this contract, is cycle activist Kyle Donovan.
Here is Bike Auckland boasting about its fairy dust.
When Kyle Donegan turned up at the Bike Auckland launch party last week, he handed me a small box containing a handful of glittery pink stuff. A little bit sandy, a little bit sparkly, it looked like fairy dust. And it might as well be – it’s a sample of the recycled glass aggregate that, when mixed with a resin base, forms the “pink frosting” on the magical new Nelson St pathway.
It has been alleged that Resin Surface gained the original contract for the paint job over a cheaper bid by a rival company. Now Bike Auckland is lobbying for yet another ‘special’ paint colour, this time a deep red, to be used on various cycle projects around the city. You know what they say - follow the money.
What is going on here? Is this another example of incompetence from the cycle management staff of Auckland Transport? Or, is there another cosy arrangement between Auckland Transport and one of its contractors as there was in the recent corruption scandal involving Auckland Transport staff and Progenz? Why should the ratepayers of Auckland be forced to pay for pink fairy dust to meet the special needs of a few cyclists at a cost of nearly $400k? Why is Auckland installing ever more cycleways around Auckland when even the Chief Executive Officer Stephen Towns admits they cause traffic congestion?
The Council seem to be trying to hide behind the excuse that this project was funded via the City Centre Targeted Rate. It does not matter if it is rates from businesses or households, spending over a quarter of a million dollars on pink twinkle dust that isn’t fit for purpose and then wasting another $115,000 on repairs on what has been a white elephant is a clear example of the Council wasting ratepayer money.
It is this mix of unnecessary expenditure and bureaucratic incompetence that has made Auckland Council the paradigm for the very worst excesses of local government in New Zealand.
Eight local boards in Auckland are spending $27000 of ratepayers money on treating a few lucky locals to a party. $200 grants are being offered so that 135 residents can get to know their neighbours better during ‘Neighbours Day’. This means that you might well be paying your neighbour so he can invite you round for a barbie.
Here is the report by Tom Carnegie of Fairfax Media.
Local boards across Auckland are offering a total of $27,000, dished out in $200 grants, for neighbourhoods to throw street parties and events, including barbecues.
The grants have come under fire from the Auckland Ratepayers Association (he means Alliance), with spokeswoman Jo Holmes saying they are a "diabolical use of ratepayers' money".
Think about what’s happening here. Politicians are using money taken forcibly from ratepayers to give to a few privileged residents so they can use it bribe their neighbours to like them using their neighbour’s money. It’s bizarre.
You need look no further than this to understand why local politicians are held in such low regard and your rates are so high.
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.
Waiheke Local Board, through Auckland Council, is encouraging homeowners to get into debt by paying a ‘Voluntary Targeted Rate’ (VTR) for a new onsite wastewater treatment system. It is a money-making scheme for Council. Under the scheme you could pay almost double the cost of a new septic system plus other charges.
The scheme is the brainchild of the infamous Waiheke Resources Trust. This Trust has already received hundreds of thousands of ratepayers money courtesy of the Waiheke Local Board to ‘clean up Little Oneroa Stream’ over the last three years. No ‘clean-up’ has been forthcoming.
Now residents in the Little Oneroa Lagoon Catchment Area have been sent a letter by Council telling them they qualify for this dubious VTR scheme. The letter says:
“This is an interest bearing financial assistance programme to be paid off via a targeted rate over a 15 year period. If the property is sold before the assistance is repaid, this targeted rate will need to be cleared as part of the final rates settlement.’
‘The Waiheke Resources Trust can also support you through the process’.
The repayment table attached to the letter shows that if you borrow $35,000 the total cost of repayments over 15 years (inc interest, GST and admin) will be $61,454. This is a very poor deal financially and is only the tip of the iceberg. On top there will be resource consent charges, possible earthwork costs, and the very real possibility that the recommended system will be in excess of the maximum $35,000 available under the scheme.
Auckland Council keeps extensive wastewater system records for every house on Waiheke. Every household is required under by-laws to pump-out its septic every three years. Some systems also have checks every six months. If the system has a problem there is a ‘Wastewater Officer’ whose sole job is to check the systems and advise owners of any problems.
When the Council Officer who sent the letter, Fran Hayton Programme Manager Environmental Grants and Incentives, was contacted she admitted she was completely unaware of the current system of checks, did not know Waiheke has a dedicated Wastewater Officer and did not know of any wastewater records kept by Council.
Her letter states ‘one source (of the pollution) is faecal matter from poorly maintained systems’ without any evidence to back up the statement, though it is an oft repeated lie from the Waiheke Resources Trust. She was unaware that tests exist that can differentiate between animal faeces and human coliforms. These tests have been conducted for years by Council. All results of the tests are a matter of Council record. If any system is failing then the Wastewater Officer needs to do his job, advise the owners they must rectify the problem. In other words, there is a perfectly adequate and extensive system of wastewater system checks and compliance on Waiheke.
What is not needed is Auckland Council, the Waiheke Local Board and the Waiheke Resources Trust encouraging residents to get into debt by taking out ‘incentives’ like a VTR that are way more expensive than taking out a 15 year mortgage extension or loan if a wastewater system is failing.
This whole scheme stinks. Why is it so costly? What ‘incentive’ is being paid to Waiheke Resources Trust to ‘support’ applications? Why hasn’t any work been done by Waiheke Resources Trust to ‘clean up’ the Little Oneroa lagoon ? Who profits?
It is another rort brought to you by the unholy trio of the Waiheke Resources Trust, Auckland Council and the Waiheke Local Board.
The Government has rejected the Auckland Mayor’s revenue raising regional fuel tax. In a statement yesterday Stephen Joyce and Simon Bridges said ‘any road pricing initiative on existing motorways and highways would be as a replacement for petrol taxes and road user charges not in addition to them.’
The news has been welcomed by the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance
DECISION TO RULE OUT REGIONAL FUEL TAX WELCOMED
Labour’s solution for every situation is to tax, tax, tax, and spend, spend, spend. The simple matter of affordability and budget constraints never enters its head.
I expect Goff knew full well his ‘regional fuel tax’ idea would never fly. The government had already told Goff’s failed predecessor the same thing. It will all be a set-up so he can say to ratepayers when he justifies breaching his 2.5% rates rise promise, ‘It’s not my fault. The government refused to let me raise alternative funding leaving me no choice but to raise rates above the promised threshold. Blame the government.’
We’ve all heard it so many times before from Labour that such an outcome would come as no surprise. In fact, Goff has already signalled he has massive rates rises in his sights. This is what he had to say.
“Putting the burden of resolving transport funding deficit onto ratepayers would push rates up about 16% next year.’
As I said before the election, Phil Goff is Len Brown on steroids.
Waiheke has been in the news for all the wrong reasons over the summer – the Peter Leitch racism row, the Waiheke drug gangs dealing at the Hawkes Bay music festival. To add to the general feeling that all is not well on Waiheke, the island is struggling to cope with the seasonal influx of visitors.
Rubbish is accumulating uncollected in holiday spots such as Little Oneroa Beach where the local board has removed rather than added to the number of rubbish bins available. Council toilets there are all but insanitary because they are not cleaned regularly enough to cope with the increased demand, and the hundreds of thousands handed to the Waiheke Resources Trust for the Little Oneroa Stream Clean Up Project has yet to produce a single result.
The huge double decker buses are also causing problems along the island’s narrow road corridor with reports of buses toppling into gutters or side swiping cars. Often the bus drivers are unsure of their routes. I saw one trying to turn around the roundabout at the top of Oneroa into Oue St, a street already narrowed to one way by parking on both sides. I can understand the logic of needing as much capacity as possible to cope with the queues at the popular vineyards and when the island is inundated with an additional 50000 visitors for Sculpture on the Gulf, but the additional weight of these buses on the already fragile road surface will be taking its toll. I wonder if the vehicles are not in fact over the weight limit for our roads.
It is little wonder that buses, and visitors, don’t know where they are going because the local board has allowed ATEED to remove any visitor information services in Oneroa. Consequently, every shop, the police station, banks and real estate office in Oneroa must waste hours every week answering questions from passers by about how to get to particular destinations. Visitors feel abandoned. Waiheke is once again over promising and under performing.
In many ways this outcome is not surprising. The Board is led by Walden who has made no secret of the fact that he doesn’t want visitors on the island and their needs are not a priority. What is a priority are more plans, as we shall see.
Parking everywhere is at a premium. There are simply not enough car parks to meet demand anywhere on the island. What solutions does your local board propose? At Matiatia it will take car parks away from general demand and give them to mobility sticker holders, but at a price. They must now pay for the privilege at the current rate. The 30 minute car parks will remain but will no longer be free. What is not proposed anywhere is additional car parking capacity. What is proposed is, you guessed it, more shared paths so cyclists can mow down hapless pedestrians on footpaths.
Meanwhile, what precious money the Board has it is wasting on more ‘plans’. Another $65000 slipped through its fingers at the December meeting as it handed over the money to Auckland Transport so it could ‘investigate’ the traffic in Belgium Street and Putiki Road. The usual complainers and moaners will have been in their ears about having to wait as long as five minutes to get out of the Countdown car park on the only time of the week when Belgium Street is very busy – during the Saturday market at Ostend Domain. There is no problem on Belgium Street. There will be one if Walden gets his way and installs a cycle only path.
Putiki Road is another matter. The narrow one way road is unfit to handle the amount of traffic it now gets as more commercial businesses open. Before handing a large sum over to AT the Board should first have called for an officers’ report for a preliminary assessment. No such report was on the local board agenda. Where was the break down of costs from Auckland Transport to justify such a large amount for a ‘report’? Auckland Transport is well known for inflating its figures and for its corrupt practices. A vigilant Board should not be accepting any amounts plucked out of thin air without a detailed report on what it is getting for its money.
As a last minute Christmas present the Board decided to give another $50,000 to add to the hundreds of thousands already handed over to that bottomless pit that is the Waiheke Boat Club, for its hard stand on Council reserve on the Causeway. This time it wanted funds for a pathway. There was no accompanying report for consideration by board members before the meeting. Apparently the money was needed ‘urgently’ so it was handed over under an extraordinary item added to the agenda at the last minute. That has become the norm if you’re one of Walden’s favoured groups (and the Boat Club is). No need to bother with all the rigmarole of going through funding rounds for grants like lesser groups. You just whisper your needs in Walden’s ear and it is done while the sheep tag along for the ride.
The new Board members are showing their lack of wisdom and knowledge. Following the failed leadership of the uneducated Walden who has learned nothing after four years on the Board, except perhaps how to waste public money, is a recipe for yet more waste of precious resources. Some Board members were unhappy with this slapdash approach. If so, they should have voted against the motion. Blindly following Walden will win them no kudos from their supporters who put them there as a check on his profligate waste of the last three years.
Given the big infrastructure problems now arising on the island it is little wonder there is a general air of discontent. Rubbish piling up in the streets is reminiscent of the UK's Winter of Discontent in 1979. Already the new board is under performing. On present form I can only see it getting worse.