Controversial targeted rate passed

The Rodney Local Board has approved the introduction of a targeted rate for transport improvements in Rodney after voting in favour of the proposal 6-3, despite the majority of public submissions on the proposal being against the idea.

If approved by Auckland Council, the measure will cost ratepayers an additional $150 per dwelling each year.

The targeted rate, which will be in place for 10 years, is expected to fund $46 million of transport improvements exclusively in Rodney.   

Money raised will focus on public transport and footpath improvements, assuming that an additional $85 million allocated to road sealing in the draft Auckland Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) is approved.

Should the additional money for road sealing not be approved, then targeted rate money will also be used to seal roads, in addition to improving public transport and footpaths.

Speaking in favour of the targeted rate, deputy board chair Phelan Pirrie said after reading through 1300 pieces of public feedback, whether people supported the rate or not, one theme stood out – “fix our transport issues”.

“With some, the targeted rate will be an unpopular call – no one wants to pay more rates, but everyone wants it sorted out,” he said.

 “I didn’t stand for the Local Board to warm a seat for a few terms, I want to see things happen.”

Mr Pirrie said the targeted rate would bring forward spending on important transport infrastructure and turn around decades of under-investment.

Assuming there were no road sealing changes in the RLTP, the targeted rate would fund a Warkworth park and ride, and new bus services in Wellsford, Huapai, Riverhead, Helensville and Huapai.

Meanwhile, an improved footpath programme would integrate with the public transport network by providing improved links to bus stops and other public transport interchanges.

Board members opposing the targeted rate were Colin Smith, Brenda Steele and Allison Roe. Mr Smith said councils had a poor record with targeted rates, with promised benefits never being delivered.

Although representing the Wellsford subdivision, Mr Smith was scathing of the idea of a Wellsford to Warkworth bus service, saying there was not the population to justify the cost of providing it.

Meanwhile, Ms Roe said ratepayers were already burdened with high transport taxes, including a national fuel tax, a proposed regional fuel tax and soaring petrol prices.

“The timing for a targeted transport rate could not be worse,” she said.      

Forty-three per cent of public submissions on the targeted rate were against it, 36 per cent supported it and 21 per cent partially supported the proposal.