How does the council fund itself?

The council levies rates on property owners, assessed on a capital value basis for residential properties, to pay most of the bills – for staff wages and council services and infrastructure to keep the city functioning. Capital values (CVs) are set every three years and aim to reflect actual market value at that time. The higher a property’s capital value, the greater the rates’ bill.

What does the council do for us?

Think rubbish collection, public transport, roading and water and sewage reticulation and town planning as its core functions. It is a huge business and a constant work-in-progress keeping the pipes maintained and the traffic flowing.

But the council doesn’t just handle the big stuff.

If you have a problem that is linked to the council, don’t put up with it.

Issues like health hazards (broken footpath, say), trees overhanging footpaths, unreasonable noise, illegally dumped rubbish, grafitti etc will be dealt with promptly and efficiently – but only if you report them.

Don’t sit back and suffer, or wait for your neighbour to take action. Download this link or phone 301 0101 and you may be surprised at how quickly your problem is rectified

Council controlled organisations

These agencies (known as CCOs) operate as business units to the side of the council – but, as the title indicates, they are “council controlled”. The extent of that control depends to a large extent on the political will of the elected mayor and his/her councillors.

The council’s website says CCOs “are organisations in which the council controls 50 per cent or more of the votes or has the right to appoint 50 per cent (or more) of directors or trustees.

“A substantive CCO is a CCO that is either responsible for the delivery of a significant service or activity on behalf of Auckland Council, or owns or manages assets with a value of more than $10 million.”

Auckland Council has six “substantive CCOs”:

  • Auckland Council Investments, whose role is to manage the council’s major equity investments of over $2.3 billion: Ports of Auckland (100 per cent owned); Auckland Airport (22.4 per cent owned) and Auckland Film Studios (100 per cent owned).
  • Panuku Development Auckland is the outcome of a merger between Auckland Council Property Limited and Waterfront Auckland. Its responsibilities are to encourage economic development through urban redevelopment, focusing on good public transport outcomes, efficient and sustainable infrastructure and quality public services and amenities.
  • Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), which aims to help lift the Auckland region’s economic wellbeing, and support and enhance the ability of the region to compete internationally.
  • Auckland Transport, which is responsible for the planning and funding of public transport, the promotion of alternative ways to get around the city, and operating the local roading network. Phone Auckland Transport on 09 355 3553 for general inquiries or 09 366 6400 for public transport.
  • Regional Facilities Auckland, which is charged with “enriching life in Auckland by engaging people in the arts, environment, sport and events”. Under its wing: Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Conventions, Auckland Live, Auckland Stadiums and Auckland Zoo.
  • Watercare Services, which is responsible for providing reliable water and wastewater services to the people and businesses of the city. Phone Watercare on 09 442 2222.

And then there are “legacy CCOs”, which are less prominent in size and scale than “substantive CCOs”. These entities provide a valuable service to a wide range of stakeholders and are key contributors to delivering council programmes and services, says the council.

They include: Community Education Trust Auckland (COMET Auckland); Contemporary Art Foundation (Te Tuhi); Mangere Mountain Education Trust; Arts Regional Trust (ARTS); Mt Albert Grammar School Community Swimming Pool Trust; Highbrook Park Trust; Te Puru Community Charitable Trust; Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust.

For information on the legacy CCOs, download this link

The Unitary Plan: what can be built next door to you

One of the biggest jobs of the new supercity council was to create a planning framework to govern the growth of the city.

Merging the individual planning zones of the seven previous city and regional councils into one sprawling authority was an enormous task.

The result: the Unitary Plan (five years of work, 249 days of hearings and 1.5 million submission points) that became the new rule book for everything from what you can build where and heritage protection to metropolitan urban limits and the port.

Each zone has rules specifying things like:

  • what you can build
  • how high you’re allowed to build
  • how you can use the land
  • what sort of activities you can use buildings or land for (housing, business, offices, light or heavy industrial, etc).

The rules also cover things like how far apart houses have to be, how much outdoor space they need to have, how many dwellings you can build on a site.

At the heart of the Unitary Plan was the need for greater intensification to cope with a surging population. Right across the city, that means going up as well as going out, though there are areas, including parts of Mt Albert, where the traditional concept of one house on an ample lump of land remains.

For great swathes of the city, however, that concept will become increasingly rare – and that includes much of Mt Albert. In 10, 15 or 20 years, expect low-level apartment blocks and multi-storeyed terraced housing to dominate the landscape in the suburbs. And along main roads and around town centres, “going up” – four, five or six storeys – will dominate.

Of course, some streets today will look the same in 10 or 15 years, even if they don’t carry the residential single house zone. Just because a zoning allows greater density and the ability to “go up” doesn’t mean it will happen overnight. Still, things can happen quickly.  A developer can, say, buy three adjacent properties and build a line of terraced houses to replace the existing homes if such a development fits the purpose of a zone.

Is that good or bad? If the development isn’t cheap and nasty and the architects do a good job at blending in with the neighbourhood, the result will probably be welcomed. But communities will be relying on council planners to guard against slack and unappealing projects.

Download this link to find out what zone your property now sits in:

The main zones in Mt Albert are:

Single house zone: The purpose of the Single House Zone is to maintain and enhance the amenity values of established residential neighbourhoods. (Amenity values are the qualities of an area that make people enjoy living there or visiting it.)

Amenity values might be created by things like historical character, special trees, coastal setting or “neighbourhood character”.

Download link for more precise detail:

Mixed housing suburban: This is the most widespread residential zone, and covers many established suburbs and some greenfield areas. Buildings in this zone are usually one or two storey, mainly stand-alone, and are set back from site boundaries with landscaped gardens. Download link for more detail.

Mixed housing urban: This zone has a higher intensity of building, and allows for houses of up to three storeys.

Download link for more detail.

Terrrace housing and apartment buildings: A high-intensity zone enabling a greater intensity of development. This zone provides for urban residential living in the form of terrace housing and apartments of between five to seven storeys. It is predominantly located around metropolitan, town and local centres and the public transport network to support the highest levels of intensification.

Download link for more detail.