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ARC increases transport, tourism and amenity funds

ARC increases public transport, tourism and amenity group funding

23 June 2008

Auckland Regional Council will this year spend more on public transport and take up a new role in regional tourism development.

The ARC's Annual Plan 2008/09, which includes amendments to its ten-year plan (Long-Term Council Community Plan 2006-16), was adopted by Council this afternoon and results in an average 4.95 per cent rates increase.

The ARC will continue to contribute to the Surf Lifesaving Northern Region ($100,000) and the Auckland Philharmonia ($250,000) and will consider supporting the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust once the council’s end of year accounts are completed.

ARC Group funding to Auckland Regional Transport Authority rises to $179.3 million – up from $150 million in 2007, $124 million in 2006, and $35 million in 2001.

ARC Chairman Michael Lee says the rates increase is similar to the last three years and reflects the annual increase signalled in the ARC’s ten-year plan.

“This year’s draft annual plan consultation attracted 355 public submitters, of which 101 asked to be heard – a big increase on the numbers wishing to speak in previous years.

‘It’s not surprising given the important regional issues we asked Aucklanders to consider and respond to,” said Mr Lee.

“We asked if the public supported our plan to raise a significant loan, to be repaid over 30 years using a proposed new regional fuel tax, to meet the public transport funding gap.

“More than two-thirds of submitters supported our proposed strategy however enabling legislation needs to be passed by Parliament before the ARC can go ahead and order electric trains and make other public transport improvements. When legislation is passed by Parliament, the ARC will revisit the issue.

“We also asked the public to tell us if they supported a proposal to make a contribution to the Eden Park redevelopment for the Rugby World Cup in 2011. We received an encouraging number of submissions and have decided to make a $10 million contribution from Auckland Regional Holdings’ funds, once the upgrade is complete in 2011.

“We recognise the economic benefits the cup will bring to Auckland and we are also offering Mt Smart Stadium as a host venue for team training and matches.

“Auckland has the potential to attract many more visitors so we have decided to allocate $500,000 to a regional funding pool to ensure support governance structures for Tourism Auckland, to better promote the region as a tourist destination.

“We will continue to redevelop the waterfront, fund improvements to rail level crossings and develop Shakespear Regional Park into a wildlife open sanctuary.

“We will also work to address vehicle use on beaches like Muriwai.

“We will give further rates relief to landowners who protect outstanding rural and coastal landscapes.

“Pest control areas will be established in Awhitu and South Kaipara and a new, albeit small, targeted rate introduced in these areas to share costs.”

The ARC Annual Plan 2008/09 will shortly be available to the public online at www.arc.govt.nz. Hard copies will be available in July.


ENDS

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