Goodbye transport levy, hello regional fuel tax

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff wants to get rid of the "utterly unfair" transport levy and replace it with a fuel tax.

The $114 levy was introduced in 2015 to help fund the sprawling super city's growing transport needs. Every ratepayer stumps up the same amount, regardless of the value of their property.

"A pensioner in Pakuranga was paying the same levy as a commercial company with a fleet of trucks on the road seven days a week," Mr Goff told The AM Show on Thursday.

"You can't get unfairer than that."

The swap for a fuel tax of 10c a litre (11.5c including GST) is the flagship policy in his proposed 10-year budget for the city, which is yet to be approved by Councillors.

Other changes include a new targeted rate of $1.30 a week to fund a clean-up of the city's harbours and beaches, and 40c a week to fight Kauri dieback.

"We will reduce the wastewater overflows into our streams and beaches by over 80 percent in 10 years - it was going to take 30 years. For council after council we've been passing the problem on, it's been in the too-hard basket. I think we're in the 21st century, we're a world-class city, it's time we had clean beaches."

Mr Goff has promised to keep rates increase to 2.5 percent or below. Despite the new charges, he says most ratepayers will actually be better off under his proposal - with commercial operators bearing the brunt of the increases.

"For the average ratepayer, it's pretty good news. If your property's worth say $1 million - which is about the average price - the net increase in your rates this year... will be about 1.4 percent this year. Pretty good."

The previous Government was opposed to a regional fuel tax, then-Prime Minister Bill English saying there was "no way" it could be targeted to Auckland-only. Mr Goff, a former Labour Party leader, said Aucklanders would end up paying more regardless, either through the fuel tax or a congestion tax.

The AA told NZME the average Auckland motorist would pay around $125 a year more for fuel, slightly more than ratepayers would save with the axing of the interim transport levy.

Mr Goff says Aucklanders will have a chance to have some input before councillors vote on the changes.

"You can stump up to council and say, 'Look, I don't want to pay $1.30 per household per week to clean up our harbours. I want to leave those harbours like they've been for 100 years, where every time it rains the wastewater overflows into the harbours... I don't want to clean that up, so I don't want to pay that.'

"But I don't think you're going to tell me that."

The full 10-year budget proposal is available on the Our Auckland website (PDF).