Nothing better illustrates how out of step Auckland has become under this Brown Council than the recent announcements of a massive wages blowout. Firstly we are told of ever increasing rates rises whilst facing ever decreasing services in order to pay for the Mayor’s train set. Now we are told in this week's Sunday Herald that, far from belt tightening like the rest of us, Council has gone on a spending spree to pay huge wages to its own inflated staff, so much so that it has failed to keep within its own budget.
Auckland Council wages blowout
Under-fire Auckland Council has blown its wages and salaries budget by $50 million, figures show.
Information obtained by the Herald on Sunday showed the council spent $730m paying staff in the year to June 30. The organisation has been heavily criticised since mayor Len Brown last month announced extreme measures to cut $2.7 billion off the city's $13.1b debt over the next 10 years.
The latest budget-busting figure will not help. According to the council's annual report the cost of paying staff ballooned $50m over the $680m budget.
That figure comes after it was revealed this week the number of people employed by the council increased by 518 this year to 11,134, while those earning six-figure salaries jumped almost 20 per cent to 1780.
Right-wing councillor Cameron Brewer provided the latest figures to the Herald on Sunday.
The blowout was unacceptable when local boards will be forced to make significant cuts to community projects and oversee service cuts, he said.
"It's totally unbelievable given the huge salaries budget management had to work with from the outset."
The blowout was even more dramatic when compared with the $654m cost forecast in the 2012 long-term 2013-14 budget, Brewer said.
"So against the 10-year budget signed off just two years ago, it's more like a $76m blowout to what was anticipated."
Reasons given to councillors for the overspending included an "increased headcount" and meeting "the needs for increased projects which weren't budgeted".
The public deserved assurances this year's $719m budget would hold, he said. Brewer sought an amendment in July to investigate limits of staff numbers after changes to the Local Government Act gave councils the power to do so, but the amendment was "thrown out by the mayor", he said.
But TV broadcaster and council critic Paul Henry said the mayor was making "the most liveable city a city that no bastard can afford to live in".
"There'll be no problems on the roads and his bloody rapid rail will be going as fast as anything because there'll be no one standing at the bloody station," he said.
Far from Auckland becoming the powerhouse of the economy that was promised under amalgamation, costs have blown out, rates have gone through the roof and there is little tangible to show for four years of red/green governance. Time for a change in 2016, the writing is on the wall.