Auckland mayor Phil Goff laid out his vision yesterday to build infrastructure at a rate that would match the region’s unprecedented population growth.
Some funding mechanisms are in place, and the council & Government have agreed bigger funding streams for some areas such as transport, but their budgets still show a $5.9 billion shortfall over the next decade.
The mayor said he would seek staff advice on options for broadening the council’s revenue base, which currently relies on rates to generate almost 50% of its funding. Other options include:
- the further development of special purpose vehicles funded by growth infrastructure targeted rates
- the application of the targeted rate on accommodation to the informal sector (eg, Airbnb)
- the sale of non-strategic assets, and
- likely proceeds from various road pricing options & practicality of implementation.
The mayor wrote his 8-page report to set the process going for the council’s 10-year budget (otherwise known as its long-term plan) for 2018-28.
The process now is for the council to run political workshops through September-November, finishing with a more concrete mayoral proposal which will go to more workshops in December, then out to public consultation in March and adoption of the plan on 27 June next year.
Mr Goff wrote in his release presenting the report:
“Our vision for Auckland is a world-class city where talent wants to live. It must be the city which can keep the best & brightest of our young people in New Zealand while competing globally with other cities around the world for skills, entrepreneurship & investment.
“My key focus is to build infrastructure at a rate that matches unprecedented population growth to maintain our quality of life and make it easier to do business in our city.
“Auckland grows by 45,000 people/year and is clearly a desirable place to live. This growth creates opportunities, but it also presents challenges in housing shortages & affordability, growing traffic congestion & pressure on our environment.
“The key to tackling these issues is our ability to lift investment in our infrastructure.
“Investment in public transport, including light rail, in active transport modes like cycling & walking, and optimising our road network is critical.
“That’s why, under our latest Auckland transport alignment project, we have set aside $27 billion for capital investment in the next decade. Currently, $5.9 billion of that is unfunded and has to be found.
“I welcome the Government’s commitment to meet the larger share of that, but Auckland will also need to contribute more.
“The 10-year budget needs to consider where we source our share of the funds.
“The interim transport levy is not user-related and does not raise sufficient funds. We can’t simply impose huge general rate increases to pay for infrastructure, so some form of road pricing will be essential.
“We need to build more houses more quickly. The mayoral housing taskforce makes recommendations which we need to move to implement.
“The unitary plan enables land development, but we need to invest in infrastructure to allow houses to be built. This will involve intensification of houses, as well as new developments under the future urban land supply strategy.
“Use of targeted rates as well as special purpose vehicles through Crown Infrastructure Partners will be essential. That also applies to protecting & enhancing our environment.
“Water quality is a top priority. We need to reduce wastewater overflowing into our streams & harbours. Building new water infrastructure will be our focus, including new wastewater interceptors & green infrastructure.
“While the council is looking for new sources of infrastructure funding, we must also get better value for the ratepayers’ dollar.
“It is time to realise the benefits of amalgamation to deliver further efficiencies & economies of scale made possible by the super-city.
“Findings from our group-wide section 17A value-for-money reviews will be critical, and I want the council to develop group-wide shared services.
“APEC [Auckland will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum leaders’ week from 8–14 November 2021] and the America’s Cup defence add impetus to our planning and provide the opportunity to create a lasting legacy for Aucklanders.
“We have the opportunity to make Auckland more prosperous, smart, innovative, inclusive & culturally rich, with a beautiful environment and choice & opportunity for all.
“With this as our vision and the investment we need in infrastructure, we will make Auckland a world-class city.”
Image above: Auckland mayor Phil Goff, on site shortly after his election as mayor last October.
Attribution: Mayoral release & plan document.