More obfuscation from Auckland Council on intensification

Finally Auckland Council has released its farcical report entitled ‘?The cost of residential servicing’ by CIE in Sydney. (The Report ?is buried in this document)

It was originally to be called the ‘Cost of Growth Study’ but when the report came back and didn’t achieve the purpose that the fuehrercrats at Auckland Council wanted – they buried it and gave it a new name then buried it again hoping it would go away.

So what is this report about?

In a nutshell it is a comparison between greenfield infrastructure costs and infrastructure required to be installed to service a compact city (intensification). And thus it goes to the heart of the fierce debate that is intensification versus sprawl.

Council had hoped that it would conclude that greenfield costs were vastly more expensive but there is stuff all in it – a few thousand dollars per household if the report is taken on face value.

But here is the problem. The report is seriously flawed because it does not distinguish between the costs incurred by Auckland Council (and therefore covered by rate payers) and the costs incurred by property developers. A difference is significant. ?

1. In greenfield sprawl private property developer build and pay for all of the infrastructure then designate it all to Council free of charge. Council sometimes has to dip into its pocket to pay for the interconnecting pipes that have to extend to the new areas but they recoup all of that cost over a short time as a charge to on new dwellings. We pay these as Watercare connection fees and development contributions.

2. In the existing city houses and roads are connected into infrastructure that is already there and so there are no property developers who will pay for this work. Existing pipes are rooted and long overdue for replacement but due to shoddy book keeping and over expenditure Council hasn’t got the money to replace the pipes even though they have charged existing rate payers for it over decades as depreciation in their rates bills. New property developments – as apartment buildings and terrace houses – only pay the cost for Council to upsize the pipes to cater for the additional capacity. And thats’ only a small percentage of the cost.

Thus Council’s and therefore ratepayers – bear most of the cost of infrastructure provision when a city is intensified.

But when a city sprawls out – the costs are born by the developers and home owners in one-off charges up front.

Nobody cares or will be worried about costs that don’t dent their own pocket and sprawl has no impact on Council or existing rate payers. With adequate asset management plans and prudent financial management the ongoing maintenance costs can be easily managed.

But the cost of intensification is saddled onto everyone.

Its total nonsense for any Council in this country to suggest that the costs of sprawl is more expensive because it’s patently untrue.

So how long do we have to continue to put up with the lies from Auckland Council as it does everything it can to keep its compact city aspirations in place?

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