The council are currently consulting on their emergency budget with submissions closing this Friday.

COVID-19 has punched a $525 million hole in the Auckland Council’s budget. That’s because about 60% of the council’s revenue comes from things other than rates and those ‘other things’ have been severely impacted by the wider economic and social impact of the virus.

This has meant that the council are cutting as much funding as then can across the entire council family. As I highlighted two weeks ago, even with a 3.5% rate rise, it effectively means that if something is not already underway, it is now being put on hold.

As it is, this is expected to have disastrous results. For example the cuts to the safety budget are estimated to mean that up to 10 more people will die and 40 more are seriously injured than would have been if the planned safety projects had gone ahead. There are similar implications for the cycling budget and for actions to address climate change, at a time when we need to be doing much much more.

Yet there are some calling for no rate rises at all meaning that not only would there be projects delayed but that projects already underway would need to stop.

Last week I had an opportunity to give a verbal submission to councillors. Here is a summary of it though much of it is perhaps more about the council process than the budget itself and for some topics there’s a bit more information here than I gave, given I’ve now had more time to think about it and do some more research.

Conservative Assumptions

It feels to me that many of the assumptions used in making the budget are overly conservative. This is somewhat understandable given how unknown things are, and were even more so even a month ago. The combined effect of all of these produces the result we’ve seen but many probably already need questioning and will likely mean that the situation will not be as bad as assumed. For example, public transport use appears to be recovering fairly fast and so the reduction in fare revenue is likely not to be as severe. Likewise this first weekend at Level 1 has shown that there doesn’t seem to have be public concern over attending large events and so reductions in council revenue from things like events and use of its services may not be as bad as the budget anticipates.

Even a few sources of revenue performing better than the budget expects could have a significant impact on just how severe the budget needs to be. In our view, the council should have done more to highlight that and explain how it would respond should it have more funding. This is also partially tied to the next point.

A 4.5% rates rise option

In the council’s 10-year Long Term Plan set in 2018 it was expected that rates would rise by 2.5% in the first two years and by 3.5% for the remaining eight years – so from this budget onwards.

The consultation documents heavily push the 3.5% option by showing how calamitous anything lower would be. But it was the council who decided to include the 2.5% option. This was perhaps to show that impact of anything lower but it has left the 3.5% option looking like the ‘upper limit’ with the much harsher 2.5% option as the compromise. Whatever the reason, many groups are now pushing the 2.5% or even a 0% option.

In our opinion, the council should have also included a 4.5% option for two key reasons.

  1. It would have presented the 3.5% option as the ‘middle of the road compromise’ version.
  2. If the revenue assumptions noted above are wrong, it would help in showing the public what’s next, the next ‘cabs off the rank’ if you will.

Perhaps the council should also be doing more to highlight more the ‘value’ of rates in Auckland. For all the complaining, rates in Auckland are generally lower than those in other NZ cities. As an example, I looked up 10 properties at random across the main urban area in five cities and compared the rates payable to the capital value of the property. I’ve included both local and regional rates in this whereas in Auckland this is combined, however in Auckland I’ve included an estimated Watercare bill based on what they say is average household usage. Even accounting for the fact house prices in Auckland are generally higher than in other cities, rates in Auckland are generally cheaper than in other places.

Note, this isn’t going to be 100% accurate but was intended to just get an idea of the trends in different places.

It’s also worth noting that while many households are going to be struggling in the coming months/years, the council is offering rates relief – which I understand is often not taken up. Also many homeowners and landlords will potentially be benefiting from reduced interest rates.

Budget cuts

We are disappointed and horrified at the scale in cuts to projects that will improve our responses to safety, cycling and climate change. These projects are desperately needed to address longstanding issues with our transport system.

Many of the projects that will be delayed as a result of this budget, especially the cycling projects, were projects that were meant to have been delivered years ago but only haven’t been due to inaction from Auckland Transport. As such, this budget only serves to add to that inequity.

It’s noted that within their supporting information, the council have a list of key considerations and one of them is below

protecting the most vulnerable – some changes may have material impacts on the most vulnerable people within our community. Such changes should be avoided or minimised wherever possible.

We think that pedestrians, people on bikes and those driving in known high-risk areas should definitely fall into the ‘vulnerable’ category and more effort needs to be put in so that this can be achieved. One such one is ….

Using Renewals better

Renewals are Auckland Transport’s single largest CAPEX budget item at about $162 million for the year. They also represent one of the biggest opportunities to easily and cheaply roll out safety and cycling improvements and there are often hundreds of crossovers between these programmes. For example if rebuilding/resealing a road, AT could paint back the road differently such as with narrower lanes to encourage slower and safer speeds as well as creating space for cycle lanes.

But currently Auckland Transport currently have no way to take advantage of those opportunities and as such roads are renewed on a ‘like for like’ basis.

At Auckland Transport’s current rates, it will probably take more than a century to rollout out much needed safety and cycling improvements across and so making better use of renewals could have a significant impact on this.

Look at all options for increasing revenue

Given the scale of the budget crisis we think it’s important to look at all opportunities to raise revenue and get better value for money. A few things Council should consider is

Charging for Park & Ride

The documents suggest charging for Park & Ride may only happen if a less than 3.5% option is chosen. We feel this should be in the 3.5% regardless.

Charging for them is supported by AT’s Parking Strategy yet AT senior management seem the most resistant to the idea, seeming concerned about the ridership impact this might have. This overplays the role that P&R has in generating PT usage. There are about 6,000 park & ride spaces across Auckland, so let’s assume about 12k trips use one. Prior to COVID, Aucklanders took around 350,000 to 400,000 PT trips every weekday meaning that only about 3.4% of all PT trips would potentially be impacted. Overseas experience shows that some may give up using PT if P&R charging was introduced but most users would either pay or find another way of getting to a PT station.

What is often overlooked in the P&R discussion though is that by being free, P&R spaces are ‘awarded’ to those that have the flexibility to get to the station prior to about 7:30. But that doesn’t work for lots of people, for example, they may need to drop their kids at school first, they may have a shift that starts later in the day or they may just value their sleep more. By charging for P&R we potentially open up the option of using PT to a wider segment of the population.

AT also don’t have to charge all spaces in a carpark. Perhaps it could just be the half or quarter of spaces closest to the station.

To give an idea of how much this could generate, there are a few private P&R carparks around. These mostly seem to charge $4-5 per day. Even if charging for just half the spaces, that could be nearly $3-4 million annually and could be enough for a few more safety projects, or enough to not cut a few PT services.

Tap into the Innovating Streets Budget

Many of the safety and cycling projects that are being deferred could be ideal candidates for the NZTA’s innovating Streets Fund which is offering to pay for 90% of the project.

But Auckland isn’t making the most of this and a letter from the NZTA to AT, included in the recent Planning Committee attachments notes that in general the applications we’ve received from Auckland fell short of multiple criteria.

The council and AT need to work harder to ensure they make the most use of this programme and that they’re not leaving any money from the government on the table.

Advocate for Red Light Camera Revenue

One of the victims of the budget cuts is the roll out of more red-light cameras. In total they want 42 installed over 10 years and so far 18 have been rolled out with eight of those only in December last year.

The issue is the Auckland Transport pay for the cost of these cameras to be installed but the revenue from them goes to the government. The council should advocate to the government to have that revenue returned to pay for more cameras to be installed.

From what I can tell from AT’s procurement data, they have spent about $1.4 million buying and installing those cameras and last year alone they generated about $2.7 million in fines. There’s also a contract signed just before lockdown to install a bunch more so we’ll likely see more announced soon. For this coming year, AT were seeking about $800k to install more.

Of course the problem with this stuff is there’s always someone who will claim it’s just revenue gathering but if Auckland is paying to install and operate them, surely Auckland should get the financial benefit of them. Perhaps even if the revenue was just ringfenced towards safety projects it could help further.

Cut Greenfield Growth

The council, or at least some parts of it, seem to be further pushing to encourage greenfield growth as a way of helping the economy. Not only is this an expensive way to grow it also has greater climate change impacts as residents are more likely to drive, even for short local trips. This means that by encouraging it the council are helping to undermine their own climate change goals. Another of the key considerations mentioned was.

climate change – different changes will have different implications for climate change. Budget changes that slow or reverse our progress in this critical area should be avoided wherever possible.

We believe the council should put on hold any funding for greenfield growth initiatives.

Submissions close on Friday

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  1. Gee. I knew the budget was bad, but what I don’t understand is why it’s missed the chance to reset the economy for climate change and less ruining the environment.

    Those key considerations – climate change and protecting the vulnerable – were just ignored. Why bother even stating what their key considerations are if they never intended to follow them?

    Is anyone else watching the councillors plead for everyone to submit on the things that matter to us and are just thinking Bugger Off. You’re just setting up a scrap between all the campaigners for critical causes like conservation and lifting people from poverty and traffic safety. Typical bloody situation where those who’ve always been down trodden continue to be down trodden because Council wouldn’t attend to the big picture – actually putting up rates enough and actually stopping the big, expensive, roading projects. Same old priorities. Makes me sick.

    1. Yes, I’m concerned about the process here too – in prioritising the budget and in the consultation process, too.

      Especially since the councillors are now worried about the push for a rates freeze, but don’t seem to understand their role in educating people about rates. They’re not explaining that the crumbling infrastructure comes in big part from this pressure to keep rates low. That’s why we’re swimming in shit.

      They’re choosing NOT to follow the logical way to keep our rates low – minimising the infrastructure to be maintained per capita – and are instead pursuing yet more sprawl.

      And they’re choosing NOT to challenge AT about their choices in this budget. The transport network has not been updated with evidence-based planning, so it’s deficient and killing our family members. And Council are letting them just continue along with their priorities in all the wrong places, instead of grasping the the cheap ways to radically improve it.

      1. Heidi
        I’d love to examine the AT budget line by line. It amazes me the relentless increase in road resealing expenditure year by year – seemingly with little justification. Of course roads need to be resealed from time to time, with some on a more frequent basis due to demand. I am concerned that AT just adopt a formulaic approach with the starting point being, we have to spend at least as much as we did last year, because we needed to do what we did last year.

        If you apply that logic to every budget item then real cost savings are unlikely to be made despite that efficiencies could well be achieved.

      2. I am concerned about the process here too. Phil Goff had his three years to collect rates and should not be running into problems here.

  2. “AT also don’t have to charge all spaces in a carpark. Perhaps it could just be the half or quarter of spaces closest to the station.”

    This is how the P+R at Matiatia (Waiheke) works

    1. Hire a parking manager from the Airport, who has probably just lost their job. Airports are geniuses at differentiating parking charge by proximity or cover, or other advantage, and sorting them by price…

      1. They aren’t geniuses, they’re just normal. Any normal operation charges a market price for their product, and tailors their product offering to a range of sub markets.

    2. Yes, the nearest spaces are $6, everything else is $3, including the roadside. Except a few short-stay spaces at $1/hr. And between 700m and 1km away from the ferry terminal is an awkward gravel surface, without marked spaces, that is free to use.

  3. Does anyone know why Christchurch has such high rates? Anything to do with that Stadium they’re ridiculously insisting on building?

    1. I doubt it’s got anything to do with the stadium given that I think insurance from Lancaster Park as well as the government are funding a large part of it.

      1. The insurance from Lancaster Park was a small fraction of what a new stadium will cost. Lancaster Park was under-insured, plus modern stadiums are built to higher standards (better seismic resilience, a roof etc.).

    2. They’re still recovering from the earthquakes. There’s a lot of infrastructure that didn’t take enough damage to be fixed in the earthquake rebuild but did take enough damage to shorten its service life. That’s on top of the various vanity projects that are still under construction (convention centre, multi-use sports centre, rugby stadium, fixing the Anglican cathedral etc.).

      The council were pretty much coerced into a cost-sharing arrangement with the government that included the infrastructure rebuild and those vanity projects. That has raised the council’s costs for years to come. National then got to tell the rest of NZ that they’d fixed Christchurch and all was well, despite all the work left undone and the significant ongoing costs the council faced.

      1. “…the various vanity projects that are still under construction (convention centre, multi-use sports centre, rugby stadium, fixing the Anglican cathedral etc.)”

        Talk about misplaced priorities…

    3. Christchurch recovering from an earthquake aside, a better question to ask is why other major cities have such low rates.

      Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton are growing fast (or at least were pre-Covid-19), with all the associated strain on their infrastructure. Wellington has a lot of seismically prone council buildings and wastewater pipes that keep very publicly failing. All the cities have underground infrastructure that is at the end of its life and desperately needs renewal. Not to mention all the new infrastructure that’s needed to combat climate change or mitigate its impact.

      All these cities should be putting up their rates to cover the cost of capital works AND sustainable maintenance programs. Not just running infrastructure into the ground until you need to replace it all at once at great expense.

    4. I’m not sure where you’re getting this news that Chch rates are so expensive. Even our good friends at the Taxpayers Union found CCC to have only the 23rd highest average rates in the country (below Akld and Wgtn). And that’s after they have had to go up a lot in the past decade to pay for the unexpected infrastructure hit of a wee earthquake…

  4. You note that axing safety projects will lead to more deaths (10) and injuries (40). Could those who make the budget cuts that axe the safety projects and so, in effect, cause these deaths and injuries, be legally liable, i.e. guilty of manslaughter?
    If nothing else, it would make an interesting legal case, and might well concentrate minds wonderfully.
    Am I correct in my recollection that, many years ago, when median barriers were advocated, those responsible for (not) providing them were initially opposed, but changed their minds when reminded that they would be facing manslaughter charges if anyone died because of the absence of a median barrier which they could have, but chose not to, install?

    1. The budget also highlights that since they are unlikely to then do the safety projects that would have happened next year as well as the deferred projects; rather the whole programme will be delayed by a year, that the total deaths and serious injuries we’d be looking at would be far higher. The safety programme had already done the work on what a two year delay to starting the programme would involve:

      900 extra DSI over a ten year period.

      We’ve already experienced some delay so this budget would put us close to this number. That’s a lot of sacrifice simply to allow other projects to continue unaffected, and to ignore the need for a higher rates rise and other sources of funding like a parking levy in the central city which could bring in over $100m per year.

      The budget is absolutely negligent and callous. I see no reason why a legal case shouldn’t be tried and hope someone will pursue it.

      1. And then we are spending valuable dollars fighting it – dollars which the Council don’t have!

        1. There are lots of things the council shouldn’t have money for Christopher: for example, their strategy for urban planning that has poor value-for-money and that burdens us with way too much sprawl infrastructure. We can’t afford this.

          What we must find money for is a responsible approach to safety, and if this involves a legal challenge, so be it.

          We can’t sacrifice progress towards a safe network and the lives or quality of life of hundreds of people just because we’re afraid of using the legal tools necessary to demand it. This is lives we’re talking about. Many of them. And no-one ever said it was going to be easy to turn this ship around. Legal battles will be part of it, because we’ve got so many vested interests.

          If safety and climate and equity were non-negotiables, Council and AT might start to listen to the ways forward that actually benefit Aucklanders, and that are cheap.

  5. A key reason the Council’s budget is that income from commercial activities and development contributions has dramatically declined. This income will largely recover over the next few years, apart perhaps for the airport. Perhaps a temporary additional rate could be charged to cover these losses, which would be reduced automatically as the Council’s non-rates income recovers. Those with valuable properties, but low incomes, could use a rates deferment scheme to cover the cost. Eventually their estate would pay the bill. This would avoid the irony of those in multi-million dollar properties saying they can’t afford to pay another $40 per week, while calling for the full burden of economic adjustment to fall on Council workers (whose salaries they consider obscenely high) and those using Council services.
    Park and ride fees should be linked to bus fares for equity reasons.

    1. Yes. If one source of revenue reduces, the responsible way to deal with it is to increase the other sources of revenue, such as rates, while meeting the needs of those who face hardship.

      Has anyone seen any work by Council to assess the level of need for not raising rates to meet the city’s commitments to equity, safety and climate action? (Especially amongst those with valuable properties.) I haven’t – I’ve just seen Councillors blindly following the economists’ lead that there is a need.

      In fact, Auckland’s average weekly household spend last year on passenger transport is $80. Only about $8 of this is on public transport. The bulk of the rest of it is on international travel – at least $65. The average household, then, has saved a shit-tonne of money by not being able to fly this year.

      The economic paradigm we are in is full of myths, and the Councillors have fallen for every one of them.

    2. If a drop in revenue is expected to be a short term drop then borrowing also makes a lot of sense. If councils weren’t already borrowing heavily they would have more ability to do this.

      Borrowing of course has to be paid back at some point, it comes down to those who pay rates at the moment taking the hit or having the hit spread over a number of years.

  6. The things Auckland council proposed is very short sighted.
    -Sells revenue generating asset during recession at discount
    -Defer most projects
    -Stop investment in long term wellbeing such as walking and cycling and electric bus

    By doing this, it creates a death spatial. Selling revenue generation asset during recession means selling at discount. Which basically another way of giving money away. Once we sold the asset and the money is spent after a couple years, will we no longer have the income. So eventually the council will have no borrowing power and goes bankrupt.

    Delaying all investment means in long term Auckland will continue to be under invested in infrastructure. Which reduces the city competitiveness and livability. In long term it will make everybody poorer and create a death spiral.

    This all to me is so shortsighted

    1. Its the right wing way (but with a supposed left wing Mayor). Delaying investment always cost more in the long term, but it saves old people money in their remaining short term!
      Increasing rates by say 5% would cost the average home owner about $2.50 a week. COVID is just an excuse; $2.50 a week will not make a substantial difference to anyone.
      Auckland seems to have been delaying investment for as long as I can remember. It seems like at least 50% of the stuff they promise to build either doesn’t get done or is at least a decade late. Can we really afford to keep doing it? If the City is a hole and people can work remotely and other places are much nicer and there is a mass exodus, what will happen to rates then?

      1. “$2.50 a week will not make a substantial difference to anyone.”

        Unless you live in South Auckland or are a pensioner

        1. Sorry I meant anyone that is affected by COVID (lost their job etc). If you lose your job I doubt a $2.50 rates increase is going to affect your situation much either way.
          For those not affected by COVID I would hope the bank makes sure you have at least an extra $2.50 a week before giving you a mortgage.

        2. Jimbo

          Try living on a pension and having to find $2.50 per week.

          That’s 7% of the fortnightly payment.

        3. You get $35 a fortnight on the pension?
          As discussed by Matthew below pensioners who are asset rich (own a house in Auckland) but cash poor should be allowed rates deferment schemes. We shouldn’t be stopping much needed investment because people who own millions of dollars of real estate are cash poor…

        4. Rates deferment schemes mean you aren’t actually getting the money though?

          Let’s also not forget money has to go much much further in Auckland and pensioners in other parts of the country get the same amount of money and aren’t expected to give up equity in their home just to live there.

          Rates deferment and reverse mortgages are just pressure valves for dealing with the actual problems that drive rates rises in the first place e.g. a large roading spend and a lack of central government support to build up alternatives to people driving.

        5. Rates deferment schemes should result in council debt being lower (the debt should belong to the individual not the council). Its debt ceilings that prevent councils investing.
          I don’t see a problem with reverse mortgages myself, I think they should be encouraged more. I really don’t want to subsidise rich homeowners just so they can gift all of their untaxed millions to their kids.
          Agree that another approach is to use the money wiser (both local and central govt). The current (supposedly left wing) electives don’t seem to think that way (all talk no action).

        6. The pension is $847 a fortnight for a single, $1,304 for a couple.

          $2.50 a week is $5 a fortnight, it’s actually 0.7% for a single living alone. Think Chris got a decimal in the wrong place.

          Still, if you’re on a fixed income you might have only a few bucks a week for luxuries, so the extra rates will come out of that.

  7. The transport stuff could just be politics. Here’s one reading of it
    AC finance committee puts the stuff (cycling, safety, climate change) that no-one wants to see cut below the line (apart from the Orakei type constituencies).
    The AC Finance Committee can then go back to the right-wing slash and burn constituents saying they are going to make massive cuts and it will be things like cycleways and speed reduction that those constituencies hate anyway.
    Govt swoops in over the next weeks and agrees to fund the things that AC cut (cycleways, safety and climate change) and are seen to be the heroes to the left/middle ground.
    The right-wing Cllrs get to say they tried to cut, they really did but the govt funded it anyway.
    Goff gets to say that he used his influence with govt to get the funding for Auckland.
    In the meantime no-one questions the legacy shovel ready shit which is above the line even though some of it should probably be cut as it doesn’t align with Government or AC/AT stated strategic priorities. In the absence of any action over the last few years by AC/AT on progressing alternatives to the old car-centric planning model, the shovel ready stuff is the only thing that is actually ready to go and receive the funding to get the economy moving post-covid.
    Auckland end up eating the shovel ready shit-sandwich because it’s sandwiched between the strategies it actually wants funded (mode change, safety, climate change, pollution,) and the economic kick-start required post-covid.
    Alternatively, maybe my lock-down binge on the West Wing is making me see political machinations where there are none …

        1. A lot of work was cut out of the CRL contracts, including the trackwork in the Britomart tunnel.

  8. I guess they could defer all safety and cycling projects AND significantly drop speed limits everywhere. A blanket change from 50 to 30 for example could probably be done by putting new stickers over existing signs. Desperate times right?

  9. Mrs mfwic submitted so I asked her to do one for me too. “What vibe do you want” she asked. “Grumpy old man” I replied. “Tell them the increase should be zero percent and use the words ‘enough is enough’ at least once please.”

    1. You hit the nail in the head miffy – grumpy old men calling all the shots because no one else has time to submit. And why bother when you know for sure the grumpy old man vote is going to trounce yours. They may as well saved all the cost and just opted for the lowest rates rise, everything else is just PR. Why not throw in some kind of old persons discount on everything too, I’m sure we could all fork out for more than just NZ super, winter power, free PT, etc.

  10. Around 50% of NZ’s VKT is on local roads and around 50% of the funding of local roads is met from council income (primarily rates). An increase of 33% in the RUCs and the road funding component of petrol tax would go a long way to helping councils out of the funding hole they are in as well as having a convincing justification.

    1. The kind of thing an environmental party might try to push through if they were in government? (I guess its just easier to legalise weed instead…)

  11. So this means the Street that I live on won’t have a grader going over it to smooth it out , even though at 1 stage 15yrs ago the council said they would seal it within 3yrs , yea right it still hasn’t been done even though the traffic has increased 4fold .

    1. Looks like they were finally going to fix up the footpaths in our area (they currently have markings all over them) after doing all the flash neighbourhoods first. Now I’m guessing we will just have to put up with them for another decade or two…

    2. And in the suburb that I live in we have around 100metres of concrete paving and that goes between a number of properties between 2 streets and that is in an area that has around 6km of narrow roading .

  12. Is now the time to discuss how the entire Government, both local and central, is funded? Should we institute a local sales tax, as in the USA? Should we disallow local government from raising tax in favour of a central, bulk funded payment?
    Should the basic necessity of life, water, be much more closely controlled by Parliament with control from the regions removed?

    1. Funding local government activities from income tax increases the burden on wage and salary earners, while funding these activities from sales tax (such as a petrol tax) hurts those with relatively low incomes. A property tax, such as rates, is relatively economically efficient as it doesn’t discourage productive effort and encourages people to use land more efficient. For those with low cash incomes rate deferment schemes, that allow delayed payment until the property owner dies, could be used more widely. Low property rates encourage elderly people to live in houses with large sections and delay urban intensification.

      1. Agree. But the problem with rates is that the old people who vote in council elections don’t like paying for anything.
        Maybe a proper land tax (a fixed percentage of land value instead of land value just being used to divide the tax) would be a better approach? Auckland Council would be rich if that had been enacted 20 years ago!

        1. With a land tax, how would that play with our crazy high land values at the moment? I’m not sure it would be a fantastic thing for affordability to have a Council that relied on high land prices to make ends meet – surely there’s some agency issues there.

        2. “old people who vote in council elections don’t like paying for anything.”

          …and your evidence for this sweeping generalisation is..?

        3. Correct it is a generalisation and I don’t have any evidence other than a lot of anecdotes.
          But its also quite predictable and understandable; if you are reliant on NZ super and you have very low expenditure, ~$3k a year on average in rates is going to seem like a lot. But for our household it is almost nothing compared to the amount the government takes in income tax. If our income tax bill only went up by 3.5% of $3k a year I would be stoked, but its actually more than 10x that!

  13. Agree with all these suggestions. It would be a shame for Auckland to move backwards over such small rates rise. One problem is Goff had promised to increase rates by 3.5 per cent a year during his second term, but surely with the COVID-19 crises an exception can be made on that promise? A new WINZ payment (just like the winter energy payment) could come to the rescue for any that would truly struggle to pay the increase.

    We should push strongly to charge for P&R’s, not just for the money side of things but for other reasons including to allow those who value them more to be able to be guaranteed a place (eg those driving in from a none PT serviced rural area.)

    1. Grant, shouldn’t we be pushing for many price signals to move the economy away from carbon emission reductions. Why are PT fares scheduled to increase by 4% when there is not a universal increase on parking charges proposed? (No, this is not prevented by the Auckland Parking Strategy.) Why do some wealthy suburbs have free parking? Why is parking on Sundays free is many locations when PT isn’t?
      Should there be a car park development tax like Sydney?

      This is not an anti business sentiment, but simply saying that businesses have to adjust to a changing environment. Shoppers and employees can arrive by other modes than by car, or shoppers could choose to shop less frequently and in greater quantities (“the toilet paper hoarding technique”). Even in a challenging environment Council can and should be setting the building blocks for the future.

  14. I dont think that many will disagree with improved safety, environmental and other key expenditures that are justified by rigorous and robust evaluation.
    The debate is really around whether Council has the appetite and the competency to optimise their own organisation as a LEAN organisation just as private enterprise has to do, or just keep treating ratepayers as ATM machines.

    1. It’s not just the organisation, but the ideology that the people running it follow.

      Essentially, we have more infrastructure than we can maintain because management at Council have swallowed the sprawl merchants’ hook. “We’ll put in the roads and pipes, you just have to maintain them. Oh, and you can provide us with motorways and arterials to get there.” Decades of this bad planning means two things – we haven’t maintained what we have, and we have a huge traffic problem.

      And there are much cheaper ways to provide the transport results we need, but Auckland Transport doesn’t propose them because they are opposed to changing the way they work. And Auckland Council doesn’t insist they change because these new systems don’t allow the subsidy to the sprawl industry to continue.

      We’re poked because the leaders at the top are stuck in 1960. It’s making things very expensive for us. I think heads should roll.

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