Brown’s advisor says Mayor toast if credit rating drops

The Herald reports:

’s principal policy adviser James Bews-Hair says the Auckland Mayor will be “political toast” if the council’s credit rating is lowered.

In an email accidentally sent to the Herald, Mr Bews-Hair said the mayor’s office has been advised there is a risk the council’s credit rating will be downgraded.

The email was circulated to senior mayoral staff on Sunday following Herald inquiries about council debt, which has soared from $3.9 billion to a projected $7.4 billion in the first four years of Mr Brown’s mayoralty.

In a candid email to Mr Brown’s chief of staff Phil Wilson, head of communications Dan Lambert and chief press secretary Glyn Jones – and copied to the Herald – Mr Bews-Hair outlined the mayoral position on maintaining the council’s AA credit rating.

“We need to keep on using the KPI [key performance indicator] for debt that we set for ourselves in election policy – retaining our rating.

“If we do that right, that can become the basis on which we are judged.

“We are advised that there is a risk that we will be downgraded … frankly, though, if we get downgraded in an improving economic environment then we are political toast anyway,” said Mr Bews-Hair.

I’d say toast regardless of the credit rating, but that certainly would deepen the searing.

Mayor Brown, who doubles as treasurer of the Super City, has borrowed $875 million on average in his first four budgets. This is nearly three times the average annual borrowings of $355 million by the former eight councils between 1989 and 2010. Debt repayment in the current financial year is $367 million.

Borrow like there is no tomorrow.

Mr Brown has refused to talk to the Herald on debt issues.

I would have thought a Mayor would be willing to talk to their local newspaper on any civic issue.

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