Auckland Mayor Len Brown unveils plans for motorway user charges and a $99-a-year ratepayer levy to pay for transport upgrades

Auckland Mayor Len Brown unveils plans for motorway user charges and a $99-a-year ratepayer levy to pay for transport upgrades

Auckland Mayor Len Brown's unveiled a package proposing motorway user charges and a fixed $99-a-year levy on household ratepayers to help fund an additional $12 billion for transport network upgrades.

The recommendations have come in Brown's report on the Auckland Council's 2015-25 draft long term plan published in December.

Brown said because the proposed motorway user charge would require legislation and take a number of years to put in place, he was proposing to fund immediate new investments of $500 million over the next three years through an "interim fixed levy on ratepayers".

He said such a levy was first signalled in the draft long term plan.

"It is intended to meet urgent needs for investment in public transport, including new rail, bus and cycleways. In order to make a difference the levy has been calculated at an average of $99 a year for non-business ratepayers and $159 for business ratepayers.

“Today we are responding to a clear message from Aucklanders - start fixing our transport problems now,” Len Brown said.

“Auckland is New Zealand’s fastest growing region. We will have one million more Aucklanders sharing our roads over the next thirty years. Just to keep this city moving in the future we need to invest in an enhanced, fully integrated transport network.

“Aucklanders, in record numbers during the consultation, and in an independent survey, have been clear that they are prepared to pay their share to get the transport network we need.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for action. Aucklanders have spoken, and we now have a responsibility to listen and act upon it.”

The key recommendations in the Mayor’s Report include:

  1. Supporting the Auckland Plan Transport Network and motorway tolling as the mechanism to pay for it
  2. An interim transport levy over three years equating to less than $2 per week for non-business ratepayers and $3 per week for business ratepayers
  3. The Mayor and Chief Executive to engage with the government to enable the implementation of a motorway tolling system by 2018/19
  4. Keeping average rates rises to 2.5% for year one.
  5. Keeping the UAGC at $385 and slowing down the business differential to limit the impact on ratepayers to 0.5% per annum

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

55 Comments

Oh.... My .....God.
Just listen to the spin!!!
The only reason all this money needs to be levied is because he refuses to stop feeding the Auckland ratepayers' money down the train tunnel.
When are the next elections?
Who will be standing on the ticket of not spending money on the tunnel????

Rail patronage is up 33% in the last 12 months. We need that tunnel ASAP.

here's an easy solution. Close Queens Street for normal traffic. Lay some tram tracks along it into New North Road.. It'll be way cheaper than digging the tunnel!. Gold Coast city Council did it 13km for 2.6 billions, that's $200,000 per m vs $1,000,000 per m for Auckland proposed tunnel.

We already have a lot of heavy rail in existence - we need the CRL to increase the possible capacity of the existing heavy rail (currently constrained by Britomart being a dead end). So even though the CRL is only a couple of kms long, it will significantly improve the entire rail network (just like the harbour bridge is probably very costly per km but is an integral part of the entire motorway network)

Interesting article here.
new Zealand sadly lagging behind....

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/28/end-of-the-car-age-how-cit...

IIRC that gold coast cost include the cost of operating and maintainance for 18years

That's all we get - spin (and broken promises) His legacy won't be the tunnel it will be as the most hopeless mayor in history. And when the heat gets too much he runs to a cricket match or hides under "no comment" - perhaps this is why he build the hidden room. "A script for a version of "The Office", would be funny if it wasn't so sad

We really need to cut our coat according to our cloth .

Why does the City not live within its means like everyone who lives in the city ?

The City is nothing more than a massive wasteful bureaucracy that has become a parasitic monster feeding off its denizens.

Where is the list of "urgent" projects to be funded by this $500M? No doubt will include the usual pointless road upgrades that never solve congestion.

Look at Len in the eyes and all you can see is $ $

I tried looking him in the eye but he was always looking over my shoulder at the........

2.5% rate rise would be good - been 10% for me the last 3 years running and looks to be 40% this year.

2.5% is the total increase, due to business / residential split changes, residential rises are much higher. And 2.5% is for one year only, then 3.5%

2.5% is the AVERAGE increase, and as such is a nonsense

what is your preferred measure then, if taking an average is nonsense?

Quoting an average increase is deceptive when some will get a decrease and other will have a much higher increase. The range should be quoted, not the sound bite average

Are rates tied to property values? I think they should be, but looking at them you seem to be paying about the same in Auckland as in the rest of NZ (RONZ).

The council determines the total amount that needs to be collected, house values only determine what proportion each household pays.
Keep in mind that we also pay for water in Auckland, probably on average about $600 P/A

You cannot arbitrarily deny people of their property - so how the heck can ACC apply a compulsory levy??? Paying a levy would be voluntary!! Perhaps the Auckland City Council need a lesson on the Constitutional obligations!!

of maybe you dont live in the real world? If you are so sure of your armchair legal abilities, sue.

And which world do you live in?? The one where there is no acknowledgement or respect for Constitutional Rights where people walk all over the top of others??......Are you advocating that only a person with a legal degree should/could have any understanding on what is a basic constitutional right? Because if you do think that then that would place all Rights in the hands of the few!!!

No the one where 99.999% ppl who are not libertarian live. What you describe as basic rights are not what I consider basic rights, by a long way. In terms of legal degree who decides what the law says is a judge and not a lawyer, which is why I said sue to determine if your point of view has any real basis in law. otherwise you can stand to be an MP and get he laws changed to suit your outlook, ie follow the democratic process. No I do not think that right should be placed in the hands of the few, but I certainly dont think that Rights should be placed in the hands of one such as yourself.

Think of it as a transfer, you used to own $99 money, now you own $99 worth of tunnel :) To get the best value for money, you would need to drive through the tunnel as often as possible.

The tunnel is already funded in the basic long-term-plan budget. So you don't get any tunnel for this 99. This $99 is for unspecified 'urgent tranport projects'

Put in a congestion charge, put in small buses, hop-on, hop-off...put in a New Mayor, Make the other one a bus driver, not a career waste of money driver...No problem..Biggest problems, solved.

Also stop immigration of the uber rich...jacking up houses and get back to a simple life. ..simple housing ..Another problem solved.

Oh yes, small buses will be so much cheaper than big buses, because bus driver wages in NZ are so low... Work drinks this afternoon and the number of people complaining that they had to wait this morning becuase the buses are full before they get to them, yup lets make they buses smaller, that will really help people get to work.

I don't understand why homeowners have to pay a levy to build the roads. Shouldn't this be a levy on the car registration for Auckland drivers (or wherever the road upgrades take place)?

Houses need access for service vehicles, deliveries, public transport and lets face it many households these days seem to have 1 car minimum if not 2.

33% of property rates go on building roads, that's the way it's always been. A levy on registration would require law changes from the central government, and the central government isn't keen on regional charges. The new trains in Auckland are a couple years late because National banned the regional fuel tax that was to pay for them.

This comment seems to cause a problem with most people, why?

Rates should have nothing to do with roads but be paid for by all road users. What is needed is more people to join in in putting pressure on politicians to get the act together.

Instead of the inner city rail link build the outer city rail link for half the price between Kumeu over to Albany, past Massey University, Albany Stadium connecting to the Northern Motorway Bus Lanes. Currently almost all farmland and bush. In 10 years time we will need to either demolish houses or tunnel under these like the Inner City Rail Link, Waterview Tunnel etc. Western Line stops at Kumeu without going way West.

So a fixed levy, looks like a regressive tax in effect.

Another tax on housing. Most people should be delighted as they believe every additional tax on houses discourages investors and makes housing cheaper.

BOB :- you are talking absolute bollocks , show me anywhere on this planet where an additional tax has ever made anything cheaper ?

Taxes that make things cheaper ?

That's an oxymoron if ever there was one

If you look at all the tunnels built 80-100 years ago, they could afford it, they got on with it and did it. Now we have had 100 years of growth, and much better technology and appear to be really struggling to build a tunnel or a new highway.

Smoke and mirrors

More on cramptons "growth" - NZ herald - tweeted by Bernard Hickey

Where is the growth? Where is the economic benefit? where is the immigration dividend?

It's not there

Now Len Brown seeks ways to pay for the cost of achieving an illusory pittance - is it worth it

Subtract other exclusions and negatives such as that promised by Len Brown - its probably negative

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1144...

... don't blame poor old Len Brown ... geez , everyone picks on the guy ...

Was it his personal fault that more Aucklanders voted for him than for his opponent at the last election ? ... it was a 2 horse race if I recall , youse coulda chosen John Palomino ... but'cha picked Lenny instead ...

... go to the " private room " Len , have a rest ... I'll bring you something nice to eat , a little Asian perhaps ....

Aucklanders need to realise that if they want to live there, the infrastructure is neccessary and they need to pay for it. It costs, it hurts, and you gotta get on with it.

Indeed all these extra ppl wanting services are just great....becareful what you wish/vote for.

Or the government could pay for it - we do also pay income and fuel tax remember. I cant see any reason why the government wont pay the full cost of the CRL just like they pay the full cost of any state highway or motorway.

Len Brown needs to explain why in 2007 Auckland Transport had 40 employees and now has over 400.

AND THINGS HAVE GONE FROM BAD TO ABSOLUTLEY DIABOLICAL

I would also like to know exactly what these 400 people do all day , because I will bet you if we fired all 400 tomorrow , it would not have any detrimental effect on the traffic whatsoever .Zero , Zilch Nada Nothing .

Auckland transport does not own a single bus , train or any asset for transporting people whatsoever

It begs the question , WTF are these people actually doing apart from drawing $100k salaries ?.

Auckland Transport did not exist in 2007. Where do you get you numbers from?

So you think if we didn't drastically increase the number of train services, and bus services, and widen roads, and maintain the roads and put in more bus lanes, that traffic in Auckland would be just wonderful?

Umm I think these people manage and plan Auckland's transport!! Contrary to your belief, it won't manage and run itself.
You cant just employ a bunch of bus drivers and people with shovels and say go for gold.

Here's some basic stat on number of staffs on high salary band between the two similar size cities;

Brisbane City Council:
$100k-200K: 60
$200k-300K: 7
$300k-plus: 1

Auckland Council:
$100k-plus:1780
$200k-plus: 141
$300k-plus: 35

Your rates are very well spent in Auckland. Wonder if any job going in Auckland Council..

know, it's a shocker, those high wages.
Meanwhile we're asked to bend over a bit further every year....

Just to put this in perspective....I've calculated how much is being spent on wages.
I've taken 1780 and divided it by 2.
One half I've multiplied by 100,000 = 89 million
the other half I've multiplied by 150,000 = 133.5 million
(because the bracket is between 100k and 200k so I think my estimate could even be quite conservative)
That's 222,500,000 or two hundred and twenty two MILLION of our rates that go on paying staff.
.
For a council that keeps cutting services.
I say - cut some staff, Len.

the number above is only for the staff being paid 100k+. I haven't even added the ones being paid more....

NZ Fonterra farmer suppliers $100k+ : 0 (who needs export dollars anyway)

Where did you get those stats? Seems dubious to me.
Does Brisbane CC have an IT department - most in IT would earn over 100k.

Whether they have or have not, annual rates in Brisbane is about 30% of Auckland.

Not usually, they pay poorly so tend to have inadequate IT staff.

BCC is a much smaller council than auckland, it manages an area of 1367 square kms, compared to 4894 in auckland.

Its simple really the Brisbane City Council Mayor Graham Quirk is a Conservative and Len is a left wing Labour supporter. That shows in the comparison between the two cities. The right are conservative and sensible with spending and the left just spend, spend and borrow more.

Its just the fundamental difference between the right and the left leaning politicians.

and before Len we had?