Auckland

Len Brown has bigger problems to worry about than a sugar ban

image001

Len Brown seems to be so desperate to talk about anything else aside from the Council’s black budget that he’s now thinking about banning sugary drinks.

I’ve posted about Auckland Council’s perilous state of its finances, as has Len Brown’s former favourite journalist Bernard Orsman who talked about ‘how city budget hit crunch point’.

With Len not keen on talking to Bernard, his PR team have instead raced out to find diversions to take Aucklanders’ attention off his inability to deliver his promised pet projects.  If it wasn’t Waterfront Auckland’s clumsy attempt at spending millions on Queens Wharf, it was wheeling out Rod Oram to encourage Len to keep on spending up big.  Read more »

Face of the day

Funny-Faces-2

Now he’s after Mum’s chickens……….. Read more »

Forget Kristallnacht in Paris, check out the flag burning in Auckland

Mana operatives are deeply involved in pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic activities around the country.

Last weekend at the protest in Auckland their flags were dominant, alone with Unite union and First union in an around the protests against Israelis protecting their citizens from terror attacks.

Mana is clearly involved in out and out anti-semitism – just disgusting filth when you see images like this.

Mana supporter burning Israeli flag

Mana supporter burning Israeli flag

Read more »

Face of the day

RIP Edwin Linder

RIP Edwin Linder

Read more »

Len Brown’s failures will cause Auckland headaches for decades

Recently we started glibly taking pot shots at Auckland Council about the perilous state of it’s finances. It may be lost on some people, but the issues are significant and if allowed to continue, will result in massive headaches in decades to come.

The Mayor has strong desires to spend up large on principally public transport. He is also proposing substantial increases in borrowing to fund these works and other trinkets.

At the same time, Auckland Council is bogged down by the constraints of its current borrowing relative to the debt limits imposed on it by legislation. In order to increase spending (and assuming he won’t reduce the right costs) the Mayor has to increase rates, but he also has to opt to to defer maintenance on existing infrastructure to fund things now that he would prefer.

Infrastructure is often misunderstood and hard for the general public to value any expenditure on it because most of it is below ground.

As residents we notice the general condition of roads and footpaths and parks but not really the essential services pipes for potable water, sewer and storm water.

We’ve identified concerns primarily about debt but also the culture of excessive expenditure that has beset Auckland Council. In our view, the city is living beyond it’s means. Much of Auckland’s expenditure to date has come at the cost of maintenance of infrastructure (which in Auckland is widely know to be poked).

Council has many factors that it must budget for in it’s operating expenses. These must generally be offset by income derived principally from rates but also from other sources like airport shares and Ports of Auckland returns.

The Local Government Act clearly sets down the expectations but often Local Government falls short. Auckland Council is no different.

Auckland has significant capital expenditure to outlay, yet is focussed heavily on the persuasion that investment in rail and improved street scapes and other high profile projects should take priority.

Focus – for the purpose of this general discussion – should therefore start with understanding the responsibilities of a Local Government.

Reactionary

Local Government all around New Zealand has for years managed maintenance on a reactionary basis.

Councils fix things only when it breaks because of deficiencies in the planning of future maintenance.

A general lack of prudent planning of adequate future costs into Long Term Plans means Annual Operating budgets typically provision very little for the future with a general preference to spend on more immediate and public works ‘today’. By taking this approach Auckland Council – by example – is creating significant liabilities in the future for other generations to resolve.

Where surplus income avails of itself the normal response is to provision that to expenditure ‘now’ like a kid hungry to blow his pocket money on lollies.

A Local Authority like Auckland Council plans capital expenditure for urban projects – like the pretty CBD road and footpath improvements.

The problem with infrastructure maintenance is that it is very expensive, and it occurs in the future. Competing against the pretty high profile projects it suffers because it takes second place.

On the Audit NZ website is a document that records an audit of the performance of Local Government that is pertinent to this topic.

It is a helpful analysis of the general state of Local Government financial planning. Specific attention should be paid to the sections of the report regarding how Local Government is performing where it concerns maintenance of assets. Overall the report is one of serious under performance by Local Government including widespread failure to appropriately plan for future maintenance of infrastructure assets.

The Local Government Act states in section 10, subsection (1) (b) the purpose of Local Government relative to the provision of services and infrastructure and then in section 10, subsection (2) it goes on to say ‘In this Act , good-quality, in relation to local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions, mains infrastructure, services and performance that are (a) efficient; and (b) effective; and (c) appropriate to present and anticipated future circumstances. [Emphasis added].  Read more »

ATEED staff lairing it up on your rates dollars

via the tipline

The photo below is of ATEED staff having a session at the ratepayers expense (CEO Brett O’Riley is in the background).

unnamed-1

ATEED Muppets give the finger to Auckland ratepayers who are milked $60 million a year to support their party

Like the mayor, these muppets have learned to have fun on the tab of the ratepayer.

Not sure it is a flash look drinking straight out of wine bottles. No wonder their budget is $60 million per annum, it is run by a bunch of tossers and the CEO just sits back and watches.

Auckland Council is out of control and needs to be reined in…hard.

More good news – jobs

Labour can run the mantra of misery all they like but the good news just keeps on rolling in.

Businesses are hiring and jobs are on the increase.

The number of jobs advertised online is growing across most industry groups and occupations, government figures show.

The latest Jobs Online report from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said skilled vacancies rose by 2.5 per cent in June, while all vacancies increased by 1.7 per cent compared with the month before.

Over the past year, skilled vacancies advertised online increased by 16.5 per cent, while all vacancies increased by 17.2 per cent, MBIE said.

The biggest increases in skilled vacancies in June were in the construction and engineering industries, up 7.4 per cent, and the hospitality and tourism sector, up 1.4 per cent.  Read more »

Does Len Brown have the stones to rein in Waterfront Auckland?

image001

This morning Len Brown’s former favourite journalist Bernard Orsman is running a story about how Auckland Council’s CCO Waterfront Auckland is suddenly running their Queens Wharf idea up the flag-pole.

Now considering Bernard’s Monday story about how the city budget has hit a crunch point, the times are tough message obviously hasn’t filtered down to the bloated office of the Waterfront Auckland CCO.

What better way for Len Brown’s team of spin doctors to draw attention away from the city’s financial mess under their Mayor, than to get people talking about Queens Wharf instead.

But there’s a slight problem with this.

Waterfront Auckland’s John Dalzell isn’t too forthcoming about how much will all of this will cost Auckland ratepayers?  Read more »

More bulldust from Auckland Council and its friends

​David Shand has gone out on a limb to defend Auckland Council’s debt woes with some classic PR spin in the Herald.

Quoting Shand he says:

‘The Auckland Council’s latest audited financial statements (for the 2012/2013) year show an operating surplus of $246m and total assets of $37 billion against a debt of $8 billion’.

We felt some clear facts should be made.

1. Auckland Council does not own ‘$37 billion’ of assets. Wikipedia states:

‘In financial accounting, an asset is an economic resource. Anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value and that is held to have positive economic value is considered an asset. Simply stated, assets represent value of ownership that can be converted into cash’.

Wikipedia goes on to say that an asset is a resource from which economic benefits are to flow to the entity that owns it. Economic value is described as a benefit measured in units of currency because value is linked to price through the mechanism of exchange creating an observation of value.

In short what this really means is that for something to be defined as an asset – it must be a thing that can generate money – either through an ongoing benefit, or by its sale to another person who is willing to pay a ‘value’ to acquire it for that same ongoing benefit.  Read more »

How Auckland can be brought out of financial doldrums

Auckland Council finances lead Mayor Brown are a shambles. In a matter of two years Brown has utterly destroyed the city’s financial position and there are serious concerns that it could be at the limit of its borrowing capacity.

Len has spent like no tomorrow.

There are many suggestions for how costs could be cut – from the rail tunnel to core services – but the real elephant in the room is the outrageous staff count.

The problems with Auckland Council start with the number of people involved and the number of costly organisations. Here is the pick list of cuts and changes needed:

1. Staff - Auckland Council is one of the largest staffed organisations in the county with over 6,000 people. The super city amalgamation was meant to see the legacy council staff numbers decrease as efficiency took ahold. But instead it has ballooned massively.

Staff is where the biggest costs go. And for all the staff numbers – Council services are still woeful. So they must be sacked.

Reduction of staff to 3,000 people will reduce the budget massively.

2. ATEED and Waterfront Auckland must  go - These organisations are troughing at the ratepayer purse for virtually no return and yet huge expenditure.

3. Auckland Transport needs to be collapsed and brought back in-house to reduce doubling up costs. Besides – they are universally loathed and inept in a way that can’t be described.

4. Kill off the rail tunnel. Nobody can afford it.   Read more »