Posted on June 22, 2016
Auckland mayoral candidate Mark Thomas is rejecting new road charges for Auckland until Auckland Council gets its financial house in order, and much needed transport improvements in the north, north-west and south of Auckland are confirmed.
“Council debt has doubled since amalgamation in 2010 from $3.4 billion to $6.5 billion and ratepayers are still reeling from last year’s 9.9% residential rates increases.”
“It is unreasonable to plan to hit Aucklanders with further council charges at this time.”
“I will rewrite council’s budget and move funding from lower priority spending into transport before asking Aucklanders if they want to be charged more.”
Thomas’s plans also include seeking approval to ‘swap’ half the Auckland airport shares and the port operating company into some of the key new transport projects which the region has a greater need for.
“Only 15% of Aucklanders trust council to make good decisions, and they are unlikely to be happy giving council more money unless we improve how we spend the money we have.”
“The ATAP report also shows acute growth pressure in Auckland’s North, North-West and South and congestion has worsened with Special Housing Area activity.
“For any future road pricing plan to be credible, communities such as those in Warkworth, Kumue/Huapai and Takinini/Drury need much greater confidence their congestion problems will be addressed.”
Thomas noted that the experience of other cities around the world did show that a carefully implemented road pricing scheme can help road users make better transport decisions, and save money by reducing new infrastructure spending.
“But we need to design a system that works well for Auckland and which has much greater public support. It’s taking Singapore more than four years to develop their new satellite system and they have had tolling since 1975.”
“It is essential that road pricing isn’t used to create another ‘slush fund’ for other council spending. With so little confidence in council decision making and with grave concerns about spending and debt levels, I won’t support new road charging for Auckland until I have improved these issues.