The EMA says for funds from Auckland Council’s petrol tax must only be used for transport projects, if it is to have any impact on Auckland’s deteriorating congestion.
“We believe that transport issues are the single biggest headache facing Auckland business and residents, and when a petrol tax is implemented the funds must be used to address this issue,” says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA.
The EMA opposes additional universal rates being levied on businesses and residents, but does accept that targeted rates have a role to play to address specific issues which delivers direct benefits to those who pay. But targeted rates are usually paid by those that benefit directly.
“This is not the case for the proposed ‘targeted Water Quality Improvement Programme’ outlined in the Mayor’s proposal, which will be paid for by all Aucklanders. This is simply a general rate passed off as targeted.
“With the interim transport levy ending, the Council needs to raise funds by another method. However, we are sceptical of how effective the petrol tax will be, and where this money will be spent. The tax itself will do nothing to ease congestion but funding transport projects to them in place sooner will eventually have an impact.
“Our research revealed that Auckland loses about $1.3 billion per year in productivity due to congestion. We recommended the use of congestion charging, as a more effective way to manage demand for the transport network than a petrol tax. We also believe, an effective congestion charging process would drive behaviours such as increasing consumer demand for public transport.
“We want to see greater use of alternative funding methods such as public private partnerships, asset recycling and targeted rates. Plus, the plan delivers only minimal cost savings – another way to free up funds for projects while balancing the budget. The savings numbers in the Mayor’s proposal are minimal in the context of the scale of the city’s annual budget,” says Mr Campbell.