Council aiming for extra $4.5m from rise in parking fees

By Mathew Dearnaley

Auckland Transport expects to raise about $4.5 million in the next financial year. Picture / Thinkstock.
Auckland Transport expects to raise about $4.5 million in the next financial year. Picture / Thinkstock.

Motorists face paying millions more dollars for parking in central Auckland streets, as the council's transport organisation tries to cope with a funding squeeze.

Auckland Transport expects to raise about $4.5 million in the next financial year from a new scheme, which includes extending fees until 10pm in inner city streets, and which is subject to public submissions closing at the end of this month.

That would mean an almost 40 per cent increase in on-street parking revenue, among other measures to meet a $45 million deficit in operational income of $550 million from the council, the Government and service charges.

The figure has emerged despite Auckland Transport's insistence when announcing the proposed new scheme a fortnight ago that its priority was to allocate limited parking spaces more efficiently, rather than to swell its coffers.

It won support in principle from Heart of the City business association chief executive Alex Swney, who said transport officials had told him it would be "revenue-neutral" in improving access to inner Auckland.

Auckland Transport wants to increase parking charges in an inner city zone to $5 for the first hour and $8 for each extra hour, but to reduce the initial hourly fee to $3 in outer streets such as the western section of Mayoral Drive, rising to $5 an hour after that.

Time restrictions on parking would disappear, and drivers would be allowed 10 minutes' free parking for quick errands.

Despite the budget estimate, buried in a report to the organisation's board, spokesman Wally Thomas said yesterday the amount of any extra revenue would not be known "until we've made a final decision on the pricing structure and the area that will be covered".

"Revenue projections are just that, and may change depending on all manner of factors and depending on what final decisions are made as a result of the consultation," he said.

But Mr Thomas acknowledged that pricing was being used to change motorists' behaviour.

A claim in a separate staff report to the organisation's board that there was "generally enthusiastic support" for benefits expected from the new scheme drew caution from chairman Mark Ford at its monthly meeting on Monday.

"That could be a bit provocative," he told chief operations officer Greg Edmonds.

Mr Swney said yesterday he remained a fan of the proposed graduated charges, although he was preparing a submission recommending "different price points" and cheaper off-street parking.

"By the time the public have finished with the consultation process, there won't be a surplus," he said.

Mr Ford also indicated unease at the board meeting over other staff proposals for coping with the funding deficit, which include savings of $12 million a year from less-frequent vegetation control, street cleaning and clearing drainage catch pits.

"When you stop clearing catch pits you're going to cause flooding. It sounds trivial, but just think of the consequences of all these cuts."

An Auckland Council appointee to the board, Christine Fletcher, said concern raised by a delegation from the Kaipatiki Local Board about cuts to transport spending on its turf was "likely to be the tip of the iceberg as the reality grips about projects that can't be advanced".

Mr Ford said the transport board should debate such concerns at its next meeting with Auckland Council's performance and accountability committee.

GOING UP

* $5 for first hour's parking in inner city

* $8 for subsequent hours

* $4.5m expected revenue from parking next financial year

* 40 per cent increase on last year's revenue

www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/haveyoursay

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 14 Jul 2014 23:12:22 Processing Time: 581ms