By Laura Kvigstad, Auckland Council reporter
Funded by New Zealand on Air
Councillors say some subjects were off limits in budget discussions and could have long term implications for the city.
At the External Governing Body meeting on 29 June councillors said issues Mayor Phil Goff disagreed with were left out of discussions.
Auckland Councils first step in the annual budget is the mayoral proposal where the mayor sets the direction for budget discussions.
Following its release in December last year, the Governing Body and public provided feedback to help develop the budget.
Cr Daniel Newman said that his vote in favour of the budget was not because he endorsed the budget.
“My vote today reflects the fact I do not want to block supply; because the parks still need to be mowed and animal control officers still need to catch stray dogs running around my ward,” Newman said.
“The budget setting process has not really allowed for a discussion into areas the mayor disagrees with because this is a mayoral proposal.”
Cr Christine Fletcher agreed that discussions around the budget were restrictive.
“Where it is the mayoral proposal, a lot of discussions are ruled out of order,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said there were questions around why councillors did not raise there concerns amongst the 50 hours of budget workshops.
Fletcher said there was limited time councillors had to address concerns because staff took up a large amount of time to reinforce the position of the budget.
“Are they workshops or are they university type lectures?”
“A lot of these things were ruled out because they were not part of the proposal you wanted to put forward,” Fletcher said to Goff.
“It is quite frustrating to see those opportunities that might be circuit breakers or game changers be missed.”
Cr Richard Hills defended the approach of the mayoral proposal.
“That is the process for how we do things,” Hills said.
“I have felt we have been invited onto the waka to participate over the last six years … I felt the mayor has brought us along.”
Mayor Phil Goff said while it was a mayoral proposal, every councillor had the opportunity to have their say.
“With any budget you can not just oppose, you have to propose,” Goff said.
“We have different political backgrounds and that has not mattered a damn. We have worked together.”
“I do not think we curtailed any questions in those workshops.”
The budget was approved by the body however Cr Christine Fletcher, Tracy Mulholland, Greg Sayers, Sharon Stewart and Wayne Walker abstained from the vote.