June 10, 2024

Auckland Transport Boss on another planet

In a recent Stuff article, Auckland Transport Chief Executive Dean Kimpton says copping blame for ongoing issues 'part of the job'.

Kimpton says, “[we’ve] got 1.7 million customers and 99.9% of the time it’s going really well for them.

“But when the 0.1% goes wrong, it’s attention-grabbing and for many and it’s the only thing they get to see”.

Auckland Ratepayer’s Alliance spokesperson Sam Warren commented:

“Sadly, Auckland Transport has earned its reputation.  Even getting just the basics right proves too much of an ask for the organisation.

“Suggesting the network runs the way it should 99.9% of the time is incredulous, even delusional, when considering the recent news that trains are now only coming every 20 minutes during peak hours as a result of ongoing industrial action.

“Anecdotally, seven out of nine staff in our office take public transport either by bus, ferry or rail.  It’s now become a running joke around the water cooler each morning as we watch stragglers coming in 20–40 minutes late, without fail.  Stepping back, imagine what this costs Auckland businesses each year in efficiency.  AT needs to sort themselves out and claw back the trust of Auckland commuters.”

May 20, 2024

Auckland Council spends nearly $300,000 on non-accredited business development training

Through a Local Government Official Information Act request the Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance can reveal that $285,000 has been spent by Local Boards and Tataki Auckland Unlimited to Rebel Business School Aotearoa to train locals to start their own business. $270,000 has been spent to set up these meetings since 2018 with $15,000 spent on a long term impact study.

Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesman, Sam Warren said:

“Local Boards are showing Aucklanders that the council isn't the only one that knows how to spend large. A long term study wasn’t needed to demonstrate this is a waste of ratepayers' money.

“Rebel Business school provided a 10-day courses resulting in unaccredited certificates that only acknowledges 'the effort they [attendees] put in to attend.'  If councils want to get more people starting up new businesses – the first step is to cut wasteful spending and lower rates so people can afford the start-up costs.”

May 17, 2024

Auckland’s Long Term Plan a bitter-sweet cocktail

Yesterday Auckland Councillors voted on the future of the Super City through the Mayor’s Long-Term Plan, settling on a series of cumulative rate increases, year on year.

Commenting on these increases, Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesperson, Sam Warren, said:

“For many Aucklanders, the Council’s decision to increase rates during a cost-of-living crisis will be a hard pill to swallow.

“The Mayor has made strides to keep increases lower than initially proposed, however there is little justification to move rates beyond the level of inflation, considering the culture of wasteful spending we see within Auckland Council.

“Council must go to further lengths to demonstrate it can be responsible with ratepayer funds by cutting back its bloated bureaucracy and return focus to only providing core services before rummaging around in the pockets of Aucklanders."

May 13, 2024

Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance invites Minister to up the ante and sign petition

In response to Auckland Transport’s introduction of 24-hour parking charges in the CBD, Transport Minister Simeon Brown has expressed support for the Mayor’s calls for greater accountability.  Commenting, Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance Spokesperson, Sam Warren, said:

“The Minister is rightly disappointed by the blockheaded decisions being made by Auckland Transport without any sense of accountability to Aucklanders.  

“The only thing scarier than a Council Controlled Organisation – is one that Council has actually lost control over.

“With no public consultation, and evidently no communication with the Mayor, Auckland Transport has become a force unto itself.

“If the Minister is serious about restoring accountability, I am inviting him to join other Aucklanders in signing our petition to scrap the proposed parking changes and bring AT back in line by visiting”

May 12, 2024

Campaign launched to demand Councillors overrule Auckland Transport’s proposed 24/7 CBD parking shakedown

The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance is launching a campaign to defeat Auckland Transport’s proposal to shakedown Aucklanders by way introducing 24/7 parking charges in the CBD, including public holidays.

Ratepayers’ Alliance Spokesman, Sam Warren said:

“These changes aren’t needed, weren’t consulted on, and will disproportionately hit casual and part time workers needing to work in the CBD at the very times public transport is least available.

“Parking charges are supposed to be for keeping parks turning over during periods of high demand. This isn’t that, rather a naked revenue grab by Auckland Transport.

“Auckland Transport seem determined to kill Auckland’s CBD. Enough is enough. We are calling on Aucklanders to join us in calling on Wayne Brown and the elected councillors to overrule Auckland Transport by signing the petition at 

May 07, 2024

MEDIA RELEASE: Mayor strong-armed, again?

The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance has expressed scepticism over Mayor Wayne Brown’s decision to not pursue a 35-year lease of operations for the Port of Auckland.

Commenting, Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesperson Sam Warren said:

“This decision has been made on the proviso that the Port’s profitability can be lifted.

“If that's the case, then that should be priced into the market value of the port lease – this appears to be nothing more than the Mayor being strong-armed by the self-interested unions, and he is now trying to claim he has a better deal.

“The Mayor has traded away near-guaranteed returns that would have been ring-fenced, diversified and ultimately put toward infrastructure.  Instead we are getting more uncertainty for ratepayers and fantasy-land projections.

“We understand private operators would have offered a better deal with public access to larger areas of the port’s footprint – including the whole of Bledisloe Wharf. This deal pushes that overboard.”

May 06, 2024

Watercare Update

Dear Supporter,

I don't often get to email you with good news for Auckland ratepayers, so today I'm celebrating.

I've spent the afternoon working through the details of yesterday's Watercare announcement by Prime Minister Chris Luxon, Local Government Minister Simeon Brown, and Mayor Wayne Brown.  It is nothing short of a Ratepayer Victory!

Aucklanders avoid 26% hike in water bills 💦

Watercare has a $13.9 billion shortfall over the next 10 years. Plugging this hole would see the water bill for the average Auckland household jump from $1,340 to $1,688.

Unlike for Council rates, Watercare's high costs aren't to do with a growing bureaucracy or wage bill – rather it needs to invest in capital plant (i.e. the pipes and pumps that will last generations).

But the mess we are in is because Watercare needs to pay up front as the Council's overspending and waste has seen the Council's group borrowing cap reached. 

Put another way: Len Brown, then Phil Goff, maxed out the mortgage and credit card, so Watercare can't go to the bank.

What the Government is doing 🏦

The deal that has been struck with the Government will see legislation passed in Parliament later this month to take Watercare's liabilities off the Council's books. Basically the legislation will see that Watercare's finances are ring-fenced and the Council can't he held liable for Watercare's debt.

That will mean Watercare will again be able borrow prudently and smooth the cost of longterm infrastructure improvements – and not pass the buck directly onto Aucklanders with extremely high upfront water charges.

And unlike the last Government's undemocratic/co-governed Three Waters plans to take local assets away from Aucklanders – under this deal, Watercare will remain owned by ratepayers.

Ultimate control of Watercare (such as appointment of Watercare's directors) will remain with the democratically elected councillors.

7% is not "good", but not nearly as "bad" as 26% 🤔

Credit where it's is due – the Mayor stuck to his guns and got this over the line. A 7.2% increase in water bills is still too much – but it is a lot better than the 25.8% we faced! 

It is certainly a lot better than Auckland ratepayers having to also subsidise Northland's water networks as would have been the case if the last government's 'Three Waters' proposals were fully implemented.

But why do I still have a sinking feeling? 🚰

The underlying problem that got us into this mess remains: Auckland Council has borrowed up the wazoo – and it doesn't have capacity to fund long term infrastructure investment. 

As of 31 December, Auckland Council's total liabilities (i.e. how much the Council owes on your behalf) amounts to $31,901.29 for every Auckland household.

This dwarfs every other New Zealand council on a per household basis. Even post-earthquake Christchurch comes out better!

And what did we get for ? The best possible infrastructure (yeah right!).

Auckland Council's culture of wasteful spending remains. Unless something changes – rates will continue to be flushed down the toilet on pet projects and vanity schemes. That's where we come in. 

Support our work in exposing this waste and advocating for better accountability in Auckland Council.

👍  Yes, I'll support less waste and a more accountable Super City  👍

Thank you for you support,

Callum Sam
   Sam Warren

   Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance 

The Ratepayers’ Alliance relies 100% on donations from grassroots supporters wanting Auckland to live up to its potential. If you agree that Council needs to focus on efficiency and re-prioritise its already bloated budgets – rather than just reach deeper into ratepayers pockets – we are counting on your support.


April 22, 2024

No cost-benefit analysis for $12.8m pedestrianisation of Queen Street

The Auckland Ratepayer’s Alliance can reveal that Auckland Council failed to conduct a specific cost-benefit analysis for the $12.8m pedestrianisation of Queen Street in Auckland's CBD.

The project involved the removal of car lanes and widening of footpaths, affecting hundreds of businesses, making Queen Street virtually un-drivable and disrupting emergency services.

Auckland Ratepayers Alliance spokesperson Sam Warren said: "A cost-benefit analysis should be stock standard for any project, especially one of this scale.

"Rather than doing the work to figure out whether this was a good use of ratepayer money, Auckland Council produced a range of vague and un-costed platitudes, such as ‘Aucklanders are prepared for change’, and ‘making the city centre attractive, healthier, inclusive and safer’ - presumably because they knew any economic analysis would rubbish their proposals.

"Once again, the pursuit of ideologically-driven pet projects takes a higher priority over respect for the ratepayer, which in reality, they should be accountable to."

April 12, 2024

Auckland Council's recklessness puts Watercare at risk

Watercare has signalled the possibility of a 25.8% increase in bills in order to remain in Auckland Council's borrowing limit.

Watercare's debt currently sits in Council's books, and are therefor unable to borrow to offset these increases. 

Commenting, Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance spokesperson Sam Warren said:

"The root of the problem is Auckland Council's recklessness."

"Watercare is one of the few entities justified to borrow at such scale to fund critical infrastructure – but Auckland Council has acted like an impulsive teenager and maxed out Mum and Dad's credit card."

"At the end of the day, Council urgently needs to reign in its wasteful spending on vanity projects, cut the fat, and stick to its core services."

April 12, 2024

NEW POLL: Massive majority wants less managers in Auckland Council

A new Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance – Curia poll reveals that 67% of Aucklanders want to see a decrease in Auckland Council managers compared with just 7% who want the number to increase. 17% of respondents wanted the number of managers to remain unchanged.

Voters were asked: “Last year, Auckland Council employed 876 managers with an average salary of $142,613. Do you think the number of managers employed by Auckland Council should increase, decrease, or stay the same?”

Commenting on the poll results, Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesperson, Sam Warren, said:

“Aucklanders are done with overpaid bureaucrats inside the Council costing ratepayers a fortune. It’s time they are showed the door.

“Before the Council starts hiking rates, it needs to urgently cut the fat to focus on core services, not backroom bureaucracy.

“Wayne Brown was elected on a mandate to get spending under control, this poll shows he clearly still has that mandate – no he must act on it.”