I don't know Mr Voutratzis but after reading his letter in yesterday's Herald I can see he’s got his head screwed on. He neatly sums up the situation around the Waiheke Local Board Walden/Brown 'slush fund' and is brave enough to broadcast his concerns to a wider Auckland audience.
He's right to do so because this is more than just a purely local issue. Sure, it’s Waiheke ratepayers’ money, but it’s also Auckland region ratepayers’ money. What if every Auckland Council local board and committee chair starts keeping a bit of petty cash in the top drawer to ‘spend on small projects that do not require scoping’. Heck, why doesn’t the whole country join in! This move by the Waiheke Local Board is a slippery slope and their lack of financial checks-and-balances, accountability and transparency are a much deeper issue for Council, and local government in New Zealand.
I am aware of correspondence having been sent to the Chief Executive Officer of Auckland Council highlighting the growing number of decisions being made by the Waiheke Board that have no transparency or accountability. So far, these decisions have resulted in tens of thousands of ratepayers dollars disappearing to goodness knows where.
Rates are a property tax and for many citizens their rates bill far outstrips any other taxes they pay. If they cannot be reassured that spending of their money by elected politicians is subject to robust and open scrutiny then maybe its time to reassess the role of local government.