11 Nov 2022

Maurice Williamson lands key role on plugging Auckland Council's budget shortfall

12:30 pm on 11 November 2022
Maurice Williamson, candidate for Auckland Council

Maurice Williamson has a deadline of March to come up with ways the city can save money. Photo: Getty Images

Former National Party cabinet minister Maurice Williamson will head the key Auckland Council committee charged with handling the city's budget deficit of $270 million.

Announcing the appointment this morning, mayor Wayne Brown said the new expenditure control and procurement committee has until the end of March to identify savings.

Brown has slimmed down the number of councillors' committees and assigned councillors to oversee its arms-length organisations.

The council will now have eight committees, down from 13.

In a statement, Brown said the new committee structure was designed to save money, keep rates low, protect the essential services Aucklanders valued and improve the region's natural and built environment.

"As I said when I was elected, my goal was for every councillor to have meaningful roles, with genuine decision-making powers, in areas that would interest and challenge them," he said.

"The committee structure is the result of dozens of hours of one-on-one meetings and discussions, with councillors indicating how they best wished to serve the people of Auckland."

A new transport and infrastructure committee will be led by councillor John Watson. It will oversee Auckland Transport and address the city's public transport crisis.

Chris Darby at a Council meeting about the Unitary Plan. 10 August 2016.

Chris Darby Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Brown said the turnaround of other council controlled organisations (CCOs) will be led by councillors - Chris Darby will tackle Eke Panuku and the port, Shane Henderson has been given Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and Ken Turner Watercare.

The governing body will retain responsibility for the annual plan, budget, long-term plan and monitoring the financial performance of the Auckland Council group, including council-controlled organisations and the port.

Deputy mayor Simpson said the council's governing body "will conduct a new line-by-line analysis of expenditure across every part of the Auckland Council group to keep rates as low as possible and protect essential services".

A mechanism will be developed in consultation with the Independent Māori Statutory Board on how it will participate in the annual plan, budget and long-term plan processes.

There will be two committees of the whole governing body, the transport and infrastructure committee, and the planning, environment and parks committee led by Richard Hills and Angela Dalton.

The latter will be responsible for plans and strategies that guide the physical development and growth of Auckland, its environment and parks.

Focused decision-making committees include the CCO direction and oversight committee, led by Wayne Walker and Shane Henderson, and the regulatory and safety committee, led by Josephine Bartley and Ken Turner.

A performance and appointments committee, led by Daniel Newman and Darby, will oversee the chief executive's performance, review current CCO and port directors, and make appointments to fill vacancies, the number of which is expected to increase from the current two.

Sharon Stewart and Kerrin Leoni will lead the civil defence and emergency management committee and Lotu Fuli will be the senior councillor on the audit and risk committee, which is required to have an independent chairperson.

Brown said a role for Alf Filipaina is expected to be announced next week.

The governing body is scheduled to note the new committee structure at its meeting on Thursday.

The council met yesterday to discuss solutions for the deficit in the proposed 2023-2024 Annual Budget.

Afterwards, Brown told media the council would have to work hard to fix the issue, otherwise it could mean a 12 percent rate increase for Aucklanders.

He said they could not rule out any solutions for the time being.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs