An Auckland councillor wants the Government to fully fund the construction and maintenance of the city's rail and bus network, saving billions of dollars for the struggling council.
Bus and train services will still be run by Auckland Transport.
Planning committee chairman Chris Darby said the council should ask the Government to take full responsibility for planning, funding and maintaining the city's rapid transit network, which includes the Northern Busway and rail network.
It would also take over and pay the balance of the $4.4 billion City Rail Link, which the council and the Government are currently sharing the cost, and a similar arrangement for the $1.4b Eastern Busway.
The Government would get to keep and maintain light rail, which it has agreed to fully fund but made little progress on since being elected in 2017.
Darby said the rapid transit network operates alongside the city's motorways, which are funded and operated by the NZ Transport Agency.
"This change is overdue and would provide the council with considerable headroom to carry on with other Regional Land Transport Plan priorities and lessen the burden on ratepayers," he said.
A spokeswoman for Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford said the Government is not considering this, adding light rail decisions are on hold while the Government's full focus is on fighting Covid-19.
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Darby's suggestion comes as council's revenue is being hit hard by the impacts of Covid-19 and the four-week lockdown, including the loss of dividends from Auckland Airport and Ports of Auckland.
It is bleeding money from the fare box for public transport and parking; fewer cars on the road means less income from the regional petrol tax and matching Government contributions; revenue from swimming pools, community centres, concerts and sports venues has dried up. Income is falling from development contributions and consenting work.
Council yesterday said hundreds of temps and contractors were being cut and a recruitment freeze has been put in place.
Mayor Phil Goff yesterday said it will be hard to reduce the 3.5 per cent rates rise without compounding council's difficulties and cancelling capital projects.
"Keeping these projects in play will assist with ensuring jobs and incomes vital to our recovery as a community and country from what will be the worst recession since the 1930s," he said.
Falling revenue is putting pressure on the ability of the council to borrow money and keep its high AA credit rating, which, if breached, could lead to a credit downgrade, higher borrowing costs and reduced investor confidence in the council.
• Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website
Council's audit and risk committee will meet behind closed doors on Tuesday to receive a report from officers outlining the financial risks facing council and the five council-controlled organisations (CCOs).
The agenda says the report contains confidential information that relates to the council group's finances and financial risks, cyber security, operational risks and information provided in confidence from the CCOs.