Auckland Mayor Phil Goff’s key focus is to build infrastructure at a rate that matches unprecedented population growth to maintain quality of life and make it easier to do business in the city.
Auckland grows by 45,000 people a year and is clearly a desirable place to live, he says.
“This growth creates opportunities, but it also presents challenges in housing shortages and affordability, growing traffic congestion and pressure on our environment.’
The key to tackling these issues is the ability to lift investment in infrastructure, Goff maintained during his 10-year budget presentation.
“Investment in public transport, including light rail, in active transport modes like cycling and walking, and optimising our road network is critical.
“That’s why under our latest Auckland Transport Alignment Project we have set aside $27 billion for capital investment in the next decade.
“Currently, $5.9 billion of that is unfunded and has to be found.”
He welcomes government’s commitment to meet the larger share of that, but Auckland will also need to contribute more Goff advises.
“The ten-year budget needs to consider where we source our share of the funds.
“The Interim Transport Levy is not user-related and does not raise sufficient funds.
‘We can’t simply impose huge general rate increases to pay for infrastructure so some form of road pricing will be essential,” the mayor says.
“We need to build more houses more quickly.
“The Mayoral Housing Taskforce makes recommendations which we need to move to implement.
“The Unitary Plan enables land development, but we need to invest in infrastructure to allow houses to be built.
“This will involve intensification of houses, as well as new developments under the Future Urban Land Supply Strategy.”
Use of targeted rates as well as special purpose vehicles through Crown Infrastructure Partners will be essential, Goff insists.
“That also applies to protecting and enhancing our environment.”
Water quality is a top priority.
“We need to reduce wastewater overflowing into our streams and harbours.
“Building new water infrastructure will be our focus, including new wastewater interceptors and green infrastructure.
“While Council is looking for new sources of infrastructure funding, we must also get better value for the ratepayers’ dollar.”
It is time to realise the benefits of amalgamation to deliver further efficiencies and economies of scale made possible by the super city, Goff says.
“Findings from our group wide section 17A value for money reviews will be critical and I want council to develop group wide shared services.
“APEC and the America’s Cup defence add impetus to our planning and provide the opportunity to create a lasting legacy for Aucklanders.
“We have the opportunity to make Auckland more prosperous, smart, innovative, inclusive and culturally rich, with a beautiful environment and choice and opportunity for all.
“With this as our vision and the investment we need in infrastructure, we will make Auckland a world-class city,” Goff predicts.
Every three years the council adopts a 10-year budget which will go out for public consultation in February and March 2018.
This year’s budget assumes a 3.5 per cent general rates increase despite Goff’s key election promise last year to keep rates increases to 2.5 per cent or less.