Auckland Mayor Phil Goff: We're spending more on transport, not less
It's looking increasingly likely Auckland's transport funding shortfall will be paid for by users, rather than tax or ratepayers.
Funding the shortfall with rates would mean a 16 percent hike, according to Mayor Phil Goff, who prefers lumping the cost on commuters.
"We have limited tools in our toolkit," says Mr Goff. "It's not fair to put it just on rates because a lot of people paying big property rates don't use the transport system much, and certainly not during peak hours.
"We need a more user-pays oriented system."
The Government has turned down Mr Goff's proposal for a fuel tax and a tourism levy. Mr Goff's third solution - a congestion charge for the central city - is still on the table, but could take years to implement.
According to its website, Auckland Council currently spends $38 out of every $100 it gets from rates on transport.
Finance Minister Steven Joyce told The Nation on Saturday that Auckland Council should reprioritise spending to make up the $4 billion shortfall needed for the Auckland Transport Alignment Project over the next decade.
"The way the budget is set up for Auckland Council, they're looking at reducing their expenditure on transport over the next few years," he said.
"With all due respect, I think the minister is mistaken," Mr Goff replied on Sunday.
"Auckland Council has increased its expenditure on transport by about 50 percent over the last few years, since it was amalgamated."
Mr Goff is aiming to keep rates increases at or below 2.5 percent - well below recent hikes and the 16 percent figure he says would be needed to fund the city's growing transport infrastructure.