The Herald editorial:
Fairly or not, politicians are expected to have solid, unambiguous positions on every issue. Not for them the shades of grey that influence the decision-making of most people in everyday life. Consequently, it is unsurprising that the Auckland councillors who are thinking of abstaining to allow the council’s 10-year budget to pass are being strongly criticised. Yesterday, Michael Barnett, of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, added to the pressure by saying taking that course would be “a total nonsense”.
They are elected to govern. If they can’t handle the responsibility, they should resign and allow in someone who can.
But ringing in their ears are the dire warnings of the council’s chief executive and chief finance officer, who have told councillors if the budget is not adopted, the council will not be able to set or collect rates, refinance loans or meet stock exchange requirements.
If they vote down Len’s budget, then Len has to put up an alternate budget which can get a majority. That is how it works.
It would surely not be catastrophic if the budget was not adopted. Any difficulties could be worked through as the budget was modified to meet the concerns of Mr Clow and others. This could see the rates impost reduced significantly through a variety of measures, including staff minimisation, enhanced efficiencies, and the selling down of council assets, such as port and airport shares and carparking buildings.
It is not a choice of Len’s budget or no budget. If they vote down Len’s budget, then a revised budget gets put up.
The issue is too important for any councillor to choose not to choose. They were elected to provide a voice for the citizens of their ward. That should not be lost when they are so adamant about the budget’s shortcomings.
Any Councillor who votes for the 9.9% rates increase budget, or abstains on it, will face a vigorous and effective campaign to stop them being re-elected.