The Government should tell Phil Goff and his council to control their spending to free up money for public transport rather than letting them raid Aucklanders’ wallets with a regional fuel tax, National Party Finance Spokesperson Steven Joyce says.
“This Council’s spending is running away on them,” Mr Joyce says. “The last thing they should be given by the Finance Minister is a regional fuel tax so they can take more money off Aucklanders.”
Mr Joyce noted the Council’s recent annual report confirms that annual revenue has increased by $1 billion over the last four years as the city has grown.
“A lot of that additional income has disappeared in business as usual,” Mr Joyce says.
“The Council has allowed its wage bill alone to go up 23 per cent in the last four years. It was $160 million higher last financial year than it was four years ago. That’s a huge increase in the context of very low inflation.
“Their total expenditure Is now $3.8 billion annually, up from $3.0 billion four years ago. No wonder they’ve run out of money for transport and other infrastructure.
“The cost saving measures Mr Goff proposed last week are very small in comparison with the problem. $370 million over ten years is just $37 million a year, considerably less than 1 per cent of the Council’s annual budget over that period.
“Grant Robertson should not be letting Mr Goff off the hook.
“The regional fuel tax will effectively only cover the cost of their wage increases,” Mr Joyce says.
“With some decent cost management the city would be able to raise the equivalent of a $150 million a year regional fuel tax, with money left over.
“Labour’s regional fuel tax will effectively just bail out the Auckland Council. The Government should do as the previous Government did and tell the Council to manage its costs properly instead.”