Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown not confident his preferred budget plan will pass muster

"One way or another we have to bridge the gap."
"One way or another we have to bridge the gap." Photo credit: Newshub

By Finn Blackwell for RNZ

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown is reminding councillors of the need for a balanced budget, while expressing doubts his favoured version will be accepted.

The council faces a $325 million shortfall, exacerbated by recent storms which have added an additional $50 million in spending.

At today's governing body meeting in the Auckland Town Hall, chief executive Jim Stabback said it would be up to the governing body to ensure the council delivered a balanced budget.

He said elected members encouraged him to seek independent advice to inform council's decisions. "No decisions have been made, of course, but equally it is prudent of us to seek independent and preliminary advice to inform those options."

Speaking outside the council chamber, Brown said he was not convinced his version of the budget would pass.

Council needed to work together to find the best solution for ratepayers, he said. "We don't have any option but to provide a balanced budget.

"How confident am I that my initial proposal will get through, I'm not particularly confident at that ... but one way or another we have to bridge the gap."

Brown said he wanted to protect already financially strained ratepayers in the most sensible way possible. Councillors should be mindful of what impact another interest rate increase could have.

"It's interesting that the councillors are quite interested in interest rates, whereas when I first arrived here they were hardly aware of what they were, which is how you accidentally get into too much debt trouble," he said.

The final annual budget will be adopted at the end of next month, coming into effect from the start of July.

Council apply lessons from January flood

Stabback said the council response to the flooding earlier this month was better than its response to the massive event in January.

The city saw severe flooding that left a number of properties uninhabitable.

Addressing the governing body at today's council meeting, Stabback said the council had learned from the January incident, which resulted in an independent inquiry being launched.

"I think our teams responded much more effectively, deployed resources on the ground in much closer to real time, ready to stand up shelters and civil defence centres as necessary."

However, despite how much better the council's response was, there was still more work to do, he said.

Brown will travel to Busan in South Korea later this week to attend a climate conference.