Burnt out career politicians often leave parliament for a cushy job with a local body, and Phil Goff is one of them. He is standing for re-election after his first term as Auckland mayor, and Todd Niall, writing for Stuff, examines Goff’s performance against promises made. Quote.
The promise: Rate rises will be kept low and affordable at an average of 2.5 per cent per annum or less.
This gets complicated. General rates had risen by an average of 2.6 and 2.5 per cent in the two years before, so Goff was promising what looked like a status quo.” End of quote.
Yes, rates became complicated when Goff introduced new varieties of rates outside of the “general rates” he was referring to in his promise. Bit of a sleight of hand here, Phil, that is actually a rates increase. Quote.
From mid-2017, the accommodation sector picked up a $13 million additional burden, in a Goff-driven policy to make the sector pay half of the city’s tourism marketing costs.” End of quote.
A new regional fuel tax was implemented to replace the $114 annual household interim Transport Levy which expired mid-2018.
In June 2018 there were about 548,000 dwellings in Auckland so the annual Transport Levy earned the council just under $62.5 million per annum. Quote.
Auckland’s Regional Fuel Tax has generated $13.2 million in its first month of operation – about $700,000 more than initial estimates.
The fuel tax came into effect on July 1, when petrol stations across the super-city put prices up by 11.5c per litre.” End of quote.
If the mayor’s new fuel tax carries on at the same rate the council would collect just over $158 million in a year, meaning householders are paying over double what they would have under the old Levy. This tallies with independent research. Quote.
While residential ratepayers saved $114 a year from losing the levy, economists Sapere Research estimated the average household would pay $252 a year due to the 11.5 cent-a-litre fuel tax, on average $138 per household more than the levy, each year.” End of quote.
If Auckland rate payers were still lulled by Goff’s promise that rates would not increase more than 2.5% they were in for a further shock. Quote.
More than 1286 private accommodation providers, using online agencies such as Airbnb, were hit with a new rate a year later depending on their level of business, bringing in $570,000 this year.
A year later, all ratepayers began paying two new targeted rates equivalent to an additional 4.6 per cent in general rates, covering an accelerated programme of water quality improvements, and one tackling pests and Kauri Dieback under a Natural Environment rate.
Both allowed much-needed additional work to be done and were backed in public consultation, but their financial burden was over and above Goff’s 2016 promises.” End of quote.
How did Goff fare on his other promises? Quote.
The promise: Each council department will be set an efficiency target, averaging 3-6 per cent across total council expenditure.
Figures supplied to Stuff forecast efficiency savings of $23m in both this year and next, falling to $16m in 2021. These are additional annual savings of 2 per cent twice, and then 1 per cent.
The breakdown of how the savings will be achieved include significant elements that were being worked on before Goff came to office. Separating his influence, from the already-happening savings programme is all-but impossible.
In the six years prior to Goff becoming mayor, the efficiency savings achieved were larger than those proposed in the figures from his office, in all but one year. That is not surprising given the low-hanging fruit available early in the council’s life – $81m in the first year.” End of quote.
Seems Goff inherited efficiency planning that gives him nothing to personally crow about. Quote.
* The promise: Urgent and bold action is needed to stop the worsening housing crisis and restore the affordability and availability of housing.
* Seek to eliminate chronic homelessness
Elsewhere in housing there is little that can be attributed to Goff’s specific ideas, rather than work already underway in council and its development agency Panuku.
In the past year, 13,272 new homes have been consented for building in the future, and 10,475 were officially completed. The numbers have levelled off and remain below the 14,000 estimated to be needed each year for decades, to wipe out a 47,000 home shortage and keep up with demand.
The Government’s Kiwibuild programme has the potential to be the biggest shift in Auckland, in delivering more affordable housing.
Goff swiftly convened a mayoral taskforce on housing after being elected, which has not claimed any significant innovation, other than being a valuable forum for participants to share ideas.” End of quote.
That is a fail, Phil. How are we ever going to get ahead of housing if we can’t even reach the annual target? Quote.
* The promise: Improved public transport options providing efficient alternatives are needed to stop Auckland grinding to a halt.
No further comment needed on transport due to lots of talk and no action. And given that gridlock is worsening, the mayor’s latest idea to reduce the around town speed limit from 50 kph to 30 kph will exacerbate it. Another fail.
Goff’s 2016 campaign slogan was “More for less.” Very apt, as it turns out, because ratepayers wound up paying more for existing services. They got less because promised improvements have largely not transpired.
What will Goff’s campaign slogan be for next year? It probably won’t matter, as hopefully he will at last be put out to pasture.