Matthew Hooton dares write what most Aucklanders really hoped wasn’t true
The former Labour leader, who is expected to win the mayoralty wearing National Party colours, will next week take the helm of another despised institution. According to Auckland Council’s own Citizens’ Insights Monitor, just 17% of Aucklanders trust the council to make the right decision on any given issue.
Worse, Mr Goff has won the position based on four fiscal promises that he knows perfectly well do not add up.
First, he has promised another $17-20 billion of infrastructure spending on top of the council’s existing estimate of $18.7 billion, for which it plans to borrow.
Second, Mr Goff has vowed not to jeopardise the council’s AA credit rating, which is under threat as debt to revenue reaches 200%, interest to revenue touches 15% and interest to rates approaches 25%. In practice, Mr Goff’s credit-rating commitment rules out any further increase in debt.
Third, Mr Goff has promised not to fund new infrastructure by selling “strategic” assets, including the $9 billion Watercare, the 22% stake the council still has in the mainly privately owned airport, and the waterfront land being used wastefully by council-owned Ports of Auckland.
Fourth and finally, Mr Goff has pledged that rates – which currently bring in just $1.5 billion a year anyway, less than half of the council’s revenue – will not rise by more than an average of 2.5% a year.
To some degree Auckland’s mayoralty is a bit of a hospital pass. Len Brown has shackled the city to a sufficient number of long term money draining black holes that any new mayor is going to need central government help to get around the rules that are hemming any kind of creative consolidation in. Read more »