The field at the local sports club is privately owned and depend on the Local Board to assist with funding. Photo / GreatBarrier.co.nz

‘Definite concern’ council cuts could cost Aotea jobs – Board Chair

There’s ’definite concerns’ about what cutbacks at debt-laden Auckland Council could do to Aotea’s economy and community services, at the local board, chair Izzy Fordham says.

Three quarters of a billion dollars has been added to the $11.4 billion council debt in the last 12 months, and mayor Wayne Brown is on a cost-cutting mission which could see the selling off of assets like Auckland Airport, and crucially Fordham says, a halving of the Local Board’s direct Initiative funding.

“For Aotea that means a potential loss of $360,000 which is a hell of a lot.” Fordham says.

“Then of course, there’s any proposed cuts to the wider budget for Aotea that we don’t know about yet.”

“It will impact the board’s ability to assist our community groups to enable them to do the good work they do.”

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

The board’s warned clubs and charities on the motu that things could get very tough, but Fordham says Auckland needs to understand Aotea is in a worse position than boards on the mainland because of our unique situation, whereby council tends not to own facilities.

“The field at the local sports club is privately owned by incorporated societies that depend on help from the Local Board to assist them”

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

“all our Clubs double up as meeting venues or halls” Fordham says.

“The cutbacks will also affect our community groups that do a lot of voluntary environmental and community work.”

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

Concerns for island employment are also front of mind, given the cuts facing the board.

“Whilst most of the work is carried out by contractors, any loss of revenue will impact on their ability to carry out their work which in turn will impact on employment.”

“[We’re] not sure of the number of people that will affect but any loss will have implications” said Fordham.

“This is a definite concern”.

Fordham says board members understand the financial predicament the council is in, but there are other ways of dealing with the fiscal shortfall.

In light of the potential Auckland Airport sale, Fordham said it was ‘interesting’ to read a New Zealand Herald report that showed council has earmarked the land Claris and Okiwi airports sit on as ‘vacant’.

“We’ve never viewed them as ‘vacant’ land let alone known as ‘quirky properties’!” Fordham said.

“Claris has a terminal building and many daily flights in and out so it’s hard to see how they are deemed that way.” 

“We have no fast ferry service and the barge is a four and a half hour trip one way that operates a few days a week.”

“Both airfields serve a purpose, are in operation, and are absolutely essential to the wellbeing of the island.”

Fordham says the board is still getting community feedback on the annual budget.

“We haven’t gone too far afield with the wider council on our thoughts until we have collated that feedback.” She said. 

In principle it was favourable to slight rate rises, over a slash and burn approach.

“We are waiting for the local feedback to come in from the Annual Budget consultation process.” Fordham said.

Whānau can provide feedback on the prospective cuts via the Auckland Council website.

The board will relay feedback on any cutbacks to the Aotea budget to councillors in Tāmaki Makaurau in May.

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