Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is seeking final approval for a "build-it" budget to deliver the city's biggest ever investment to tackle traffic congestion and protect the environment.
After months of stitching together his first 10-year budget and consulting Aucklanders, Goff has stuck with earlier plans and added a few last-minute surprises, including extra money to address the challenges of climate change and a contestable fund for sport.
Extreme weather events have led to a proposal to establish a $40 million climate change response fund and $90m to protect coastal assets.
I believe this is a budget that will help all of Auckland and be overwhelmingly welcomed across all of the city.
SHARE THIS QUOTE:
Goff has responded to lobbying from the likes of Auckland Sport and Recreation to propose a $120m contestable fund for sports and recreation facilities, and lobbying from the arts fraternity to give the Auckland Art Gallery a further $2m a year after sustained funding cuts.
His budget proposes an average rates increase of 2.5 per cent over the next two years and 3.5 per cent thereafter. New property valuations this year mean some households will pay more than 2.5 per cent from July, while others will pay less.
The mayor's final 10-year budget proposals will be debated and decided by councillors on Thursday.
"I believe this is a budget that will help all of Auckland and be overwhelmingly welcomed across all of the city," Goff said.
The budget divvies up $200m among the 21 local boards, who were each asked to put forward a single new project they would like to deliver for their communities.
It does, however, have a city-centric focus with $100m set aside over the next few years for the America's Cup, continued funding for the council's half share of the $3.4 billion City Rail Link and new downtown bus and ferry facilities.
Goff said the budget is going to get Auckland moving with investment of $26b over the next 10 years to reduce traffic congestion, unlock greenfield housing development, clean up beaches and protect the environment.
Public consultation and polling has found support for targeted rates of $452m to clean up beaches and waterways and $311m to fight kauri dieback, protect native flora and fauna and fund pest and disease control.
The mayor and councillors are expected to give the final green light to an 11.5 cents a litre regional petrol tax that some politicians believe will hit those least able to afford it. It will come into effect on July 1 when petrol prices are at record highs.
The tax is expected to raise $1.5b over 10 years but, with transport subsidies and other funding sources like development contributions, adds up to a $4.4b funding boost for transport. All up, the council will invest $12b in transport over the next decade.
The Labour mayor also plans social spending by expanding the Southern Initiative into West Auckland with an additional $5m to provide life skills and job training in poorer communities.
"We will continue to look after those Aucklanders most in need, contributing $475,000 to the Auckland City Mission to improve their Hobson St property," he said.
Phil Goff's 10-year budget plans
• Rates increase of 2.5 per cent for the first two years and 3.5 per cent thereafter
• Regional petrol tax of 11.5c a litre
• New water quality targeted rate to raise $452m*
• New environmental targeted rate for protecting kauri and native flora and fauna to raise $311m*
• Climate change response fund of $40m* and $90m* for coastal protection work
• $100m for America's Cup
• $120m* contestable fund for sports and recreation facilities
• $20m* to help restore cutbacks at Auckland Art Gallery
• Expand Southern Initiative social programme to West Auckland and $475,000 to City Mission
• Resumption of reducing the difference between business rates and household rates
• The disestablishment of Auckland Council Investments Ltd
*spending over 10 years