Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has proposed sweeping and substantial funding cuts across climate, arts, culture, public transport, environment, infrastructure, urban form, community and education programmes in this year’s Auckland Council Budget. We must stand up for quality services and oppose these cuts.

With decades of infrastructural under-investment catching up with us, let alone the climate crisis landing on the doorstep of our largest city, this Budget proposal represents a huge step backwards for Tāmaki Makaurau. It’s worse than business as usual. It’s head-in-the-sand stuff.

These cuts are being rationalised by shaky projections of a budget ‘hole’ in Council revenue and spending. Other Councils, such as in Wellington, have decided to confront reality with a proposed 13% rates rise to fill the shortfall and make the necessary investment in a community-focused, climate-resilient city.

In 2019, Auckland Council declared a climate emergency. In 2023, the climate emergency landed on our doorstep. Climate action delay is the new denial. There is no runway left for political inertia.

Here you’ll find a submission guide for your crucial input into Auckland Council’s budget proposals. We encourage you to stand against these cuts and share the guide with your friends, whānau and community. Your voice really, really matters.

This will outline some prompts and ideas as background support for your submission. To make a submission you must use Auckland Council's portal which you can access here. You can also sign on to our petition to stop the cuts to climate action.

Question 1: Operating spending reductions

This section proposes cuts to many of the things we value about living in our city.

There are proposals to permanently cancel hundreds of buses a day as well as increasing the cost of catching them. To cut funding to community, culture, regional events, economic development and social services. To gut early childhood and Citizens Advice Bureaus (CABs), as well as halve Local Board discretionary spending, in practice.

We suggest: Do not proceed with any reductions and instead further increase rates and/or debt.

You can then list why you believe this and if there’s any cuts that are specifically concerning to you. Personal stories are highly valuable.

Question 2: Amending Auckland International Airport Limited (AIAL) Shareholding Policy

This is a suggestion to sell the 18% shares Auckland Council currently holds in Auckland International Airport.

Commentators point out that this is not a particularly astute time to sell these shares - at a low point in the market - and that once they are gone, this asset can no longer be leveraged or support future revenue raising for Council.

We suggest: Don’t change the policy, keep all our shares and further increase rates and/or debt.

Question 3: Managing rates and debt

Our city, communities and neighbourhoods are built with collective, public investment that is funded by rates, taxes, and fees. Debt can also be used to spread the costs of investment that will have future benefits for our communities. 

Cuts to services are far from an inevitability; they’re irresponsible in the midst of a climate and inequality crisis. Reducing the Water Quality and Natural Environment Targeted Rates by two-thirds is especially irresponsible in the wake of substantial damage to our local environments and waterways caused by recent flooding. Auckland Council can increase rates and/or take on more debt, allowing much needed investment and preventing cuts to social services. 

We suggest: Choose ‘other,’ and explain that Council should both set a higher general rates increase and make greater use of debt.

Based on Auckland Council’s assumptions and modelling, the highest possible rates increase that they investigated (>13%) would fall well within the boundaries of what they consider ‘affordable’ (that is, less than 5% of the median annual household income). The difference in affordability between a 7% general rates increase and 13.5% general rates increase is 0.2% (see page 26 here on internal staff advice). In practice, that’s about the price of a cup of coffee per household per week - which, at scale, would help pay to fix long term underinvestment.

Question 4: Storm response

In 2023, with the climate crisis landing on our doorstep, we’ve seen the results of decades of underinvestment in our critical infrastructure. It’s high time we start investing in making Auckland more resilient in the face of climate change and extreme weather events.

We suggest: ​​Proceed with the proposal to increase our operating budget by around $20 million each year.

You can explain how important it is for us to invest in stormwater infrastructure, especially in light of recent extreme weather events. Personal stories about how the flooding has affected you and your community are highly valuable.

Question 5: Local Board Priorities

There are 21 Local Boards within Auckland Council. These Local Boards are largely responsible for the things that happen in our neighbourhoods with libraries, community centres, public pools and gyms, parks and with our Business Associations. 

Each Local Board has had to produce their own recommendations and plans in the context of the Mayor’s proposed sweeping cuts and as such, many are seeking public feedback on what, if any, they should cut or prioritise with the proposed serious reduction in their funding.

We suggest: Click on your Local Board area and read up on what’s happening. Offer feedback where possible (in open text boxes) that you oppose the idea of cuts to these crucial public and community services.

Question 6: Changes to other rates, fees and charges

Targeted rates allow Auckland Council to raise funds for specific services and projects, such as climate action. There are a number of very specific rates referenced in this public feedback form.

Perhaps most importantly, the Council plans to plunder the funds from the very popular Climate Action Targeted Rate (CATR) to avoid Auckland Transport paying for intended bus services, and reduce the total investment in bus services.  

We suggest:

  • Support changes to waste charging and emphasising that all areas should have food waste collection available in the open comments. 
  • Support the swimming pool compliance targeted rate changes.
  • Oppose the Climate Action Targeted Rate changes. 

If there’s something you’re passionate about, please elaborate on it within the open text box.

For example, you could outline concerns you have with Council reprioritising the Climate Action Targeted Rate which was established just last year with overwhelming public support. The Council is now planning to plunder the Climate Action Targeted Rate fund to reduce costs to Auckland Transport—who are also proposing to permanently cut hundreds of buses a day—instead of using it to improve and increase services. We suggest you make it clear that you support more investment in buses, walking and cycleways. 

Question 7: What else is important to you?

This is an opportunity to reinforce the points you’ve made across the rest of the submission.

We suggest: Reiterating the issues you are most passionate about—whether it’s buses, CABs, community gardens, climate action, empowering local boards or something else—and explaining why Council should invest in these things. 

Note: Please remember that to make a submission you must do so via Auckland Councils website. You can access the website here.