Council budgets $854m for City Rail Link for next 3 years
5 November 2014
Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer
Council budgets $854m for City Rail Link for next three years
Auckland Council’s draft Long Term Plan will promote $854m being budgeted for the City Rail Link in the next three financial years which goes well beyond any proposed enabling works and property acquisition. It also comes despite recent assurances from the Mayor for a more moderate approach to appease some increasingly concerned councillors, says Auckland Councillor for Orakei, Cameron Brewer.
“People need to be aware of this and have their say in the Long Term Plan process. Today’s decision gives licence to effectively start the project proper and effectively without the Government until potentially 2020.”
Mr Brewer’s amendment to at least highlight the first three-year $854m in the draft Long Term Plan public consultation was successful as was his amendment for councillors to be briefed on the initial capital works programme with the option to limit some proposed construction and cost.
“Some of us were prepared to agree for $275m of Enabling Works to proceed but then for a binding funding agreement with the Government to be secured before any Main Works expenditure could commence. However this more prudent step was rejected by a majority of councillors. It seems the City Rail Link is now all go, with or without requiring any guarantee from the Government.”
Mr Brewer’s amendment for the Budget Committee to honour the 23 May 2012 Strategy & Finance Committee Long Term Plan resolution “That Auckland Transport progress the work and related land acquisition and technical requirements of the CRL but do not progress construction beyond this until funding has been confirmed” was also thrown out.
Also rejected by the Mayor was Mr Brewer’s suggestion that the two draft Long Term Plan transport proposals released for public consultation include a third transport network option that totally excludes the proposed 10-year cost of the City Rail Link and shows what alternative priority regional and local transport projects could be advanced instead – such as a North Western Bus Corridor and Penlink.
“I also pushed for ‘the Mayor to confirm to councillors before the ratification of the draft 2015-2025 Long Term Plan on 18 December 2014 the newly re-elected National Government’s latest and formal positon on the City Rail Link its timing and council’s LTP project assumptions, and its formal view and likelihood of statutory change to enable the council’s proposed alternative transport funding options including a new fuel tax and/or tolling the Government’s existing State Highway motorway network’ which was also thrown out.”
Mr Brewer’s earlier amendment to consult the public on an average regional rates increase of 2.5% (as was previously promised by the Mayor) was lost by 16/7 votes. The council will now consult on 3.5%.
“The average regional rates increase needs to be at least 2.5% for 2015/16 because let’s not forget with a likely low UAGC and the impact of the recent property revaluations, many properties can expect rates increases well above the regional average next year. Instead of just whacking up people’s rates to deliver some more local projects, my proposal was that this can be equally achieved by cutting the organisation’s huge operational budget instead.”
Mr Brewer has also tabled to lift with Uniform Annual General Charge from the Mayor’s proposed $381 to $550 to help those in higher valued properties who have been slugged with significant rates increases since amalgamation.