Alf is by no means surprised to learn that big savings are not being made as a consequence of all that Super City stuff.
ACT’s Rodney Hide – as was posted here in May last year – had been much too gung-ho about the Auckland restructuring and not half as concerned about the implementation costs as his track record on accountability would have us believe.
The bugger demanded rigorous cost and benefit data on the matter of the emissions trading scheme (and fair enough, too).
But he was a bit slippery when it came to the super-city implementation costs.
Inevitably, we learn today –
The cost of running the new Auckland Council has risen despite the shedding of more than 1200 jobs.
At the end of its work, the Auckland Transition Agency claimed there would be net savings by next June of $37 million from merging eight councils into one from 1 November.
However, figures from the new council show that even after cutting about 1200 jobs, the merger costs alone will add nearly 1% to rates.
Significant savings and a forecast rise in rates of 3.9% will be possible only if a further $48 million in savings can be found by next June.
According to Radio NZ, the council says it is working on cost-cutting, including the phasing out of old IT systems.
Without any further savings, rates next year would rise by 7.3%.
Wearing his Local Government Minister hat, Hide reckons the agency has been conservative in estimating potential savings in overheads and procurement.
He remains confident big savings can be found from the merger of eight councils which took effect from 1 November.
Mr Hide expects the council will find new cost savings in excess of $48 million
But this sounds like wing-and-a-prayer stuff to Alf.
Betcha it doesn’t take Labour’s Phil Twyford long to try scoring brownie points on the matter.
He’s already done it, banging out a media statement under the heading Hide’s mythical $48 million an admission of failure.
Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says Local Government Minister Rodney Hide made up a figure of $48 million in unspecified cuts in order to be able to claim the Auckland super city would save money for the ratepayer.
“The Minister plucked the $48 million dollars out of the air. There is no rigor, no basis for his budget figure. He simply made it up so that he could claim savings. This is the worst example of governing by bluff and bluster.
“Mr Hide trumpeted a 3.9% rates increase, down from the 6% that would have resulted from the eight councils being merged. But now it has been revealed that he wasn’t happy with the 6% and told his officials to cut that to 3.9 by adding a so-called efficiency target of $48 million of unspecified cuts.
“This is dishonest. The Minister is trying to give Auckland Mayor Len Brown a hospital pass. What is the Mayor supposed to do: close the Museum? Stop collecting the rubbish?”
Aucklanders are certainly entitled to wonder whether the structures Hide has imposed on them will lead to rates hikes.
They don ‘t have to pay, of course. They have a way out – they can emigrate north to Northland, or south to anywhere they choose in the rest of New Zealand.
Either way they will be going to a better place than they one they are living in now.