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Ratepayers set to fully fund this City Rail Link

Ratepayers set to fully fund this City Rail Link contract and others

It’s positive news that the contract has been awarded for the first phase of the City Rail Link’s construction. However Auckland ratepayers need to be aware they’re fully funding these early stages, with the Government making no commitment whatsoever to fund any of the expensive enabling works, says Auckland Councillor for Orakei, Cameron Brewer.

“The Government has only committed to funding 50% of the capital cost from 2020. Auckland Transport and all budget documentation now views this project as a 58/42 one, not a 50/50 one as the Mayor tries to promote.

“This latest contract is just part of the nearly $500m ‘enabling works’ stage which is now being completely debt-funded by ratepayers. Last year, the Mayor wrote to the Prime Minister requesting that the Government pays half of this, but Mr Key pushed back at least twice and has only ever reiterated that the Government will pay its ‘share of funding for a construction start from 2020’ and following the completion of a joint business plan in 2017.”

“At this stage the Mayor has only secured a political commitment that the Government will pay 50% of the ‘main works’ costs, not the enabling works. Hence council’s draft 10-year budget rightly assumes the council will pay $1.487b (58%) and the Government $1.039b (42%).”

Mr Brewer says while it might make sense to start the enabling works for the City Rail Link, it’s also important to note that the project is already squeezing other public transport projects.

“For example, the much needed and long anticipated new Otahuhu Bus/Rail Interchange is now completely reliant on tolls, fuel taxes or a transport targeted rate getting through to fund its $17.6m cost, otherwise only very basic facilities are set to be provided and belatedly to that community.

“The Mayor is desperate to celebrate every post as a winning post when it comes to the City Rail Link. However what the celebratory media statements won’t tell you is that he has failed to convince the Government to fund any of this expensive early work, and other public transport projects are now being cut short of cash, deferred, or completely deleted from any schedule,”

“The next Mayor of Auckland needs to make this a 50/50 project at the very least. That’s what ratepayers were promised from the outset, but so far they’re completely carrying the lot and the bills are mounting - $178.2m in the last four years alone,” says Cameron Brewer.

Ends


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