New Zealand

Local Democracy Reporting

Wayne Brown demands cost-cutting start after meeting scrapped

December 3, 2022
Wayne Brown.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown says he expects a new council cost-cutting committee set up to rein in the city's spending to start work immediately.


By Local Democracy Reporting's Stephen Forbes

That's despite a decision this week to cancel its first meeting because it didn't have anything to discuss.

Auckland Council's new expenditure control and procurement committee cancelled the December 6 meeting because, according to chairman Maurice Williamson, it didn't have any solid data or analysis to look at.

But Mayor Wayne Brown released a statement on Thursday saying he had asked the committee to identify $12.5m in savings from the Auckland Council and other CCOs.

That includes $7.5 million in spending cuts from Auckland Transport and $5 million from Auckland Council and its other CCOs.

A spokesperson for Brown said on Friday that he expected the committee to undertake an immediate line-by-line analysis of council spending and recommend where cost savings can be made by March 31 next year.

And despite the cancellation of this month’s meeting, he expects the work to start as soon as possible.

"The mayor's office has written to the chair and deputy chair of the committee confirming this project should begin immediately, and suggested they schedule an initial workshop with the full committee and council officers as soon as possible.

"As the mayor said on November 17, he expects officers to provide the committee with all the information it requires to do its work, and the mayor intends to discuss this matter with the chief executive at their regular meeting early next week."

But he refused to answer questions about whether the committee should reschedule its meeting for this month and what the mayor's thoughts were on comments by Manurewa ward councillor Angela Dalton.

Dalton, who is a member of the committee, said she felt like the other councillors on it had been sidelined.

"The only communication I've received from Maurice Williamson was that the meeting had been cancelled. It’s unbelievable," Dalton said. "It's like the committee members aren't even involved."

She said if the council was facing a supposed financial crisis it didn't make sense to cancel its first meeting on the grounds there’s nothing to talk about.

Brown last week said council faced a $295m hole in its next budget and double-digit rate rises as a result, if the deficit wasn't addressed.

Dalton said the fact council will go into recess next month for Christmas - and won’t return until February 2023 - meant the committee was unlikely to meet more than twice before Williamson releases his findings.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

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