The council yesterday passed the Annual Budget for the 2017/18 year. Some of the key points from the budget include:
- The rates increases is set at 2.5%, a level that saw support from 57% of submitters.
- Introducing a living way policy
- A $200 million boost to spending on infrastructure with $2 billion in capital spending this year
- Introducing targeted rates on development and on accommodation providers
The targeted rate on accommodation was the most contentious and sucked up much of the media attention. It will raise $13.45 million and used to help fund half of the cost of tourism marketing and events by ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development). The council say the money freed up from currently funding ATEED will create the capacity for an additional $100 million increase in capital spending on transport infrastructure, including helping to fund mass transit between the CBD and airport.
Looking at the reports to the council, here are a few things that stood out not specifically mentioned in the press release.
- $10 million of Auckland Transport operating budget to fund mass transit network investigations
Auckland continues to face serious transport access issues involving the city centre, the inner suburbs, the Airport and the south. Auckland Transport is working to determine an effective public transport solution to this issue. Investigation and design of potential mass transit solutions continues and requires $10 million of increased operating budget in 2017/2018.
- updated capital budgets for City Rail Link which reflect an increase of $240 million in council’s share of net capital investment by 2024/25 (revised total council investment of $1.7 billion)
Updated budgets for the City Rail Link have been provided with a total project cost of $3.4 billion and a 50/50 split between council and government. The overall impact of this update is an increase in the net capital investment by council of $240 million over the life of the project.
- an additional $161 million capital budget to accelerate transport investment (including $30 million for mass transit land acquisition)
With transport one of the key issues for Aucklanders, additional capital budget is proposed to accelerate programmes such as AMETI, the Manukau Interchange and public transport infrastructure, $30 million to support route protection for Mass Transit and timely property acquisition for future projects. An additional $161 million capital budget in 2017/2018 will be required.
- $7.2 million of additional capital budget for works on either side of the Skypath construction
Following the Governing Body decision to proceed with Skypath, the inclusion of capital budgets is required for the landing on each side of the Harbour Bridge. This includes Harbour Bridge Park, moving the maintenance yard, and the northern landing pedestrian path. $7.2 million additional capital budget will be required in 2017/2018.
- $10 million of capital budget for cruise ship infrastructure
Auckland needs an immediate berthing solution in order to accommodate larger cruise ships. It is therefore proposed that the council enables this by building a mooring structure, adjacent to the northern end of Queen’s Wharf, known as an the Inner Dolphin. This will require $10 million capital budget to be funded from existing Panuku budgets and recovered from cruise passenger levies over time.
Of those, it would be good if the Council and/or Auckland Transport could break down what specifically is included in the extra $161 million to be spent. It seems really poor form for them not to do this. The most detailed the reports get on capital spending for transport is below. It suggests that Auckland Transport will spend over $800 million this year – although that will also include co-funding from the NZTA too.
The report also shows this table on operating expenditure across the council family.
The budget also presents an interesting counterpoint to some of the argument that’s been raging between the Council and the Government recently. The government have criticised the council for not doing enough to cover their share of the funding shortfall identified in ATAP and as such we haven’t seen any movement from the government on it. This budget suggests the council have gone some way to addressing their side of the ledger so we await with interest the government’s response, and money.