Opinion by David Thornton NoMoreRates.com
Auckland Rates could rise by 50% to cover repayment and annual interest on debt.
A new report from a Treasury Unit makes it clear that the proposed Central Rail Link and other major Auckland Transport projects will place huge additional funding requirements on Auckland Council.
The report states that, even if central government met half the costs, Auckland Council has not identified how it would fund its share, but if the Council borrowed to pay its share the cost of repayments of principal and annual interest would exceed $700 million, equivalent to 50% increase in Auckland Council rates.
The report, from the National Infrastructure Unit, notes that Central Rail Link will require residential and commercial/industrial intensification along the rail corridors, but will also result in lower investment in in other areas of intensification which have lesser access to rail, especially the North.
This would result in ratepayers with limited or no access to rail would be paying to subsidise a rail network from which they got little or no benefit.
The report calls on the Auckland council to reconsider its priority for these projects, “A priority for the Auckland Council, potential funders and infrastructure users is to reconsider the proposed projects and undertake the strategic review to determine whether individually, and as a package, they are the right projects to address the long-term transport challenges facing Auckland.”
The Central Rail Link must not proceed until a fully costed and funded business plan is produced which substantiates passenger forecasts, which has the unchallengeable support of residents, and does not depend significantly on ratepayer funding.