Wednesday, 8th April, 2020
Auckland Council would seem to be out of step with the plight of thousands and thousands of businesses, householders, employees and wage earners, all ratepayers, doing it tough as they fight for survival, setting their sights on a 3.5 per cent rates increase as the solution to their revenue shortfalls.
”While business is reeling from no income because of the lockdown, Council too has seen income drop. It’s taken some action, cast its army of contractors adrift, rescheduling capital works and infrastructure upgrades and finding things for the 10,000 permanent staff to do from home as their priority,” says Auckland Business Chamber CEO, Michael Barnett.
“We know Council has debt, but they are not the only organisation in town in pain from no income and ballooning debt. Surely there are better options for Mayor Goff, his Council, and executives and management teams to pursue that share the pain and are right for the times and the future.”
Mr Barnett said government has indicated it would be open to discuss council debt ratios so they could lift their borrowings which would avoid passing on even more costs to ratepayers who need help beyond the wage subsidy but also with rent relief to give them a fighting chance of coming out of the pandemic ready to fight another day.
“What’s Auckland Council doing to reduce its overheads, trim salaries and shrink its operations to suit the current crisis and be ready to revive the region so it can recover with an organisation that is the right size with the right resources, skills sets, capabilities, and aptitudes for fresh approaches to deliver service and value?”
The latest Auckland Chamber business confidence survey released this week shows that over 70 percent of the 1000 respondents want to survive but they do know that they will need help from government – and council – and their bankers across the financial, tenancy, tax, wage and employee spectrum to be ready for post-lockdown.
“SMEs are the powerhouse of our regional – and national economy – not just those firms at the big end of town and with the economy also in lockdown, we have a reasonable expectation that Auckland Council is large and powerful, touching all our lives in some way every day.
“Businesses are making the cuts, and so must Council. We are all in this together, and Council must get with the programme,” Mr Barnett said.
For more information contact Michael Barnett, mobile: 0275 631 150.
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Business Chamber.