1 May 2015

Auckland Council under fire for proposed levy

6:12 am on 1 May 2015

The Automobile Association has criticised Auckland Council's proposed transport levy saying it will fail to solve the city's congestion problems.

Congested outgoing traffic in the afternoon rushhour on an Auckland motorway

Congested outgoing traffic in the afternoon rushhour on an Auckland motorway Photo: 123rf

Auckland Council wants an additional $12 billion for major transport projects as part of its 2015-25 long term plan.

Mayor Len Brown has proposed an interim fixed levy of between $99 to $159 a year for the next three years, to raise about $500 million for some of those immediate projects.

But the AA has likened the levy proposal to putting the cart before the horse, by seeking funding for a plan the council still cannot agree on with the Government.

Instead, it wants an Auckland transport accord to help bridge the divide between the council and Government and avoid funding options like the levy.

Spokesperson Barney Irvine said an accord would tie together all the elements required to make progress on Auckland transport.

"It's something that a lot of parties are calling for, and that we firmly support.

"We would see this as a case of local and central government coming together and agreeing on the goals, the strategy, and the funding mechanisms for an Auckland transport plan.

"That's absolutely essential to getting an outcome that's good for all of Auckland. You've got to work out what you're actually doing, you've got to come up with a strong plan, and then you can start to talk about how to pay for it."

Transport levy 'lazy'

The Auckland Chamber of Commerce said using ratepayers to fund the transport capital works programme is a lazy way to raise money.

Chief executive Michael Barnett said while accelerating some urgently needed transport projects was warranted, asset sales, rather than a new transport levy, was a better way to go about it.

"Reassessing the huge asset base that Auckland has, and really ask: is it important that they own those assets? Or could those funds be used in another way?

"I think you really do need to have a look and say, there are 1.5 million people in Auckland, a couple of million of visitors go through each year, and yet all we're going to hit here with this levy is 500,000 ratepayers.

"It's the usual place we go: we put our hand into the pocket of a ratepayer."

Mr Barnett is worried that three-year levy could become permanent.

"The last thing Auckland needs from this proposal is for the 'interim levy' - really a targeted rate - to become a permanent fixture in council's revenue provisions."

The council will vote in a week on the mayor's recommendations.

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