Aucklanders to have say on regional petrol tax before knowing how it will be spent

20 Feb, 2018 4:20pm

Aucklanders will shortly be consulted about a regional petrol tax of 11.5 cents a litre to tackle congestion but won't be immediately told where the money will be spent.

This is because Auckland Council and the new Labour-led Government have not lined up their transport priorities for the city, and uncertainty lingers over Government funding.

The regional petrol tax is the brainchild of Mayor Phil Goff to boost spending on transport across the city where commuters have been warned Auckland's gridlock nightmare is set to escalate by 30 per cent at peak hours and 50 per cent off-peak.

The tax is estimated to cost households $140 a year. It will raise $130 million to $150m a year, but this will be offset by the loss of $60m a year raised by an interim transport levy which expires this year.

The regional fuel tax is included in the council's draft 10-year budget. The consultation document for the budget is expected to be approved by councillors tomorrow to go out for public consultation on February 28.

                                            Auckland Mayor Phil Goff plans to introduce a regional petrol tax.

The only thing the consultation document says about where petrol tax will be spent is it "will be committed to transport projects and/or services and will improve the performance of Auckland's transport network".

Consultation on the budget begins before a review of a joint government-council transport programme is due to be completed next month. Once the review of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) is completed, Aucklanders will be consulted on a specific transport programme funded from the tax.

The 10-year budget outlines the financial pressures facing the council from decades of under-investment in key areas like transport and stormwater and a city growing by the population of Tauranga every three years.

There's a warning the council cannot afford to renew all of its libraries, swimming pools and playgrounds to modern standards. The 21 Local Boards have been asked to advocate for one key project in the budget (see below). Libraries, swimming pools and playgrounds are high on the list.

Projects in the budget are city-centric, with the central city and waterfront topping the list for investment arising from the additional pressure from the America's Cup defence and Apec leaders meeting in 2021.

The council is expected to spend tens of millions of dollars on infrastructure for the America's Cup bases and $260m on other waterfront and downtown work.

"We still don't have enough funding," says the consultation document, adding working with government, revenue other than rates and selling more assets are options to fund the gap.

Goff was unavailable for comment today.

Main points of the 10-year budget

Hold overall rates increase to 2.5 per cent in the first two years and 3.5 per cent thereafter.

Introduce regional petrol tax of 11.5 cents a litre to replace the interim transport levy.

Proposed water quality targeted rate based on value of your property.

Two different proposals for natural environment targeted rate to fight kauri dieback and other projects.

Increase universal annual general charge (UAGC) - a flat charge paid by all ratepayers - in line with the general rates rise.

Resumption of long-term plan to gradually reduce business rates, leading to small increases for residential ratepayers. The reduction was halted in Goff's first budget last year.

Changes to the targeted rate for accommodation providers.

Disestablish Auckland Council Investments Ltd

Local Board key projects

Albert-Eden - replacing aquatic centre at Mt Albert Grammar and badminton/table tennis centre in Gillies Ave.

Devonport-Takapuna - improvements to Lake Rd.

Franklin - developing Karaka Sports Park.

Great Barrier - installing solar power on public buildings and chargers for electric vehicles.

Henderson-Massey - a new pool to take pressure off West Wave and buying land for sports fields and community facilities.

Hibiscus and Bays - $18m for coastal protection at Orewa Beach.

Howick - bring forward $20m library and community facility and $27m aquatic centre at Flat Bush.

Kaipatiki - new grandstand and swimming pool at Birkenhead War Memorial Park.

Mangere-Otahuhu - improve Mangere east precinct.

Manurewa - $12m upgrade of Manurewa War Memorial Park.

Maungakiekie-Tamakii - transport interchange at Onehunga.

Orakei - $6.3m walking and cycle link from Gowing Drive in Meadowbank, linking with the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive shared path.

Otara-Papatoetoe - make Colin Dale Park a regional park to save on running costs.

Papakura - build a multi-storey park and ride facility at Papakura train station.

Puketapapa - keep the Liston retirement home at Monte Cecilia Park.

Rodney - build $12.5m indoor sports facility at Kumeu/Huapai.

Upper Harbour - seek funding for an indoor sports facility in the northwest, possibly at Whenuapai.

Waiheke - transport improvements at Matiatia that enhance and protect the heritage and environmental values.

Waitakere Ranges - funding to improve the Glen Eden town centre.

Waitemata - $5.5m for first stage of pocket park on Ponsonby Rd and potential funding for stage two.

Whau - new swimming pool and recreation centre.