As a result of the exceptional leadership of long-term Councillor Faye Storer, Waiheke has built up community assets that are the envy of many of the local board areas around greater Auckland. I have no doubt Waiheke would have had a community swimming pool had the next Local Board continued along the path already charted by the experienced Storer and the first Waiheke Local Board. It might have taken another five years but it would have been worth the wait, just like it was worth the wait to get a community library that is the envy of Auckland. As it is, there will be no community swimming pool in the foreseeable future after this local board decided to abandon the charted course. Experience counts in local government, so does patience.
Waiheke is only one of two local board areas that receive more back from rates than it pays: the other being Great Barrier. This is one of the big benefits of being part of Auckland. Large scale Council projects, such as the new library ($7 million), or purchase of land at Matiatia ($9 million) by Auckland City Council would be unaffordable if Waiheke ratepayers had to go it alone.
Most of the money collected in rates gets spent on maintaining the infrastructure that has been built up over many years such as roads, footpaths, parks, and buildings. Then there is the very high cost of administering the organisation. As Waiheke is so closely linked to central Auckland and benefits from Council funded services there it is only fitting that Waiheke ratepayers also contribute their fair share.
It was due to Fay Storer’s experience and foresight with the support of the majority of the first WLB that Waiheke gained exceptional discretionary budgets. This was one of the most profound legacies handed over to the second WLB. In rough figures that means they have had around $1.5 million to spend on capital items such as new infrastructure. In addition they have also had $600,000 from Auckland Transport to spend on transport related infrastructure projects. Even Walden’s bridle bridge to nowhere and accompanying bridle path only account for $350,000, so where has the $2 million gone?
Not only has the money been squandered it on slush funds, BBQs, outboard motors, and cronyism, this board also cancelled the $1.4 million worth of projects it inherited. Further, through mismanagement, poor advocacy and lack of vision this board has seen discretionary budgets for future boards slashed in half. There are no future projects in the pipeline.
As a smokescreen to hide its abject failure this board has decided it wants to ‘go it alone’ and take Waiheke out on Auckland. God forbid, can you imagine what a dreadful legacy that would be if these same people get their hands on all our rates.