Slow spend on targeted rate

With just over a month remaining in Auckland Council’s financial year, less than one-quarter of the Rodney Local Board targeted transport rate has been spent or committed.

At the end of March, the Board had spent just $377,000 of the $4.17m that the transport targeted rate fund will raise this year – $258,000 on bus services and the remaining $119,000 on new footpaths, bus stops, and park and ride preliminary work.

In addition, the Board has committed a further $551,000 for bus services this financial year.

Board targeted rate spokesperson Phelan Pirrie says there are some major projects in the pipeline and the Board is taking a long-term view.

“The two park and rides – at Kumeu and Warkworth – will involve capital expenditure of several millions, so the Board is weighing up its options for funding these projects,” Mr Pirrie says.

“We could borrow the money and use the targeted rate to repay it, save and pay for the projects in a lump sum, or perhaps do a hybrid of these.

“We’re keeping our options open until we know exactly what the costs will be.”

Going forward, the amount committed for all bus services will be $2.03m each financial year.

The Board has introduced three new bus services and is in the throes of planning two park and ride facilities:

•    Bus 998, between Wellsford and Warkworth
•    Bus 128, between Helensville and Hibiscus Coast Station, via Kaukapakapa and Waitoki
•    Bus 126, between Westgate and Albany Station, via Riverhead and Coatesville
•    Kumeu Park & Ride (under investigation)
•    Warkworth Park & Ride (under investigation).

Mr Pirrie says to the week ending May 4, the Wellsford service was averaging 418 passengers a week.

Patronage was down slightly over the school holidays, which included Easter and Anzac Day, but the first week back at school saw 500 passenger boardings for the first time.

“The Helensville to Hibiscus Coast Station is relatively steady and is averaging 250 passenger boardings a week. We’re very encouraged by early patronage statistics and have asked Auckland Transport to investigate the thresholds to apply for future funding assistance from NZTA.

“This would provide us with the ability to potentially increase the frequency of the 128 bus service, and allow us to focus more fully on the remaining targeted rate priority projects.”

Mr Pirrie says by the targeted rate’s first anniversary on July 1, he hopes to have greater clarity on how the funds will be allocated over the next few years.

On the question of whether or not the interest on the accumulating funds will be added to the Rodney targeted rate funds, he says it is not something he has been focused on at this time.


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