Casey re­think­ing sup­port of trans­port levy

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By ELESHA ED­MONDS

Al­bert-Eden house­holds can ex­pect an al­most 15 per cent in­crease in their rates bill, which will in­clude the in­terim trans­port levy.

Mar­garet Bijl says the rate rise will make it tougher to af­ford living in her Mt Eden home.

‘‘It doesn’t take into ac­count the num­ber of peo­ple living in the build­ing,’’ Bijl says.

‘‘I live alone and my us­age of Auck­land city ameni­ties is prob­a­bly very mi­nus­cule.’’

Bijl, who moved from Christchurch to re­tire in Auck­land, says in­creas­ing rates won’t make the city’s trans­port and hous­ing prob­lems go away overnight.

‘‘I sym­pa­thise with the coun­cil’s dilemma of how to man­age this prob­lem but they have been lum­bered with some­thing that the Gov­ern­ment is also re­spon­si­ble for,’’ she says.

‘‘In­stead of the Gov­ern­ment be­ing so heavy-handed they need to be work­ing in co-op­er­a­tion and com­ing up with sen­si­ble so­lu­tions that will re­quire money.’’

McCoy D’Silva, 31, rents in Mt Al­bert and says a rates rise is only jus­ti­fi­able if peo­ple are also earn­ing more.

‘‘It de­pends if there’s an hourly in­crease in pay, if not, then it’s not fair.

‘‘But it’s good that the coun­cil wants to do things.’’

Auck­land coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey says she is re­think­ing her vote in sup­port of the trans­port levy.

Casey, says she is ner­vous af­ter see­ing coun­cil­lor Mike Lee’s cal­cu­la­tions on the in­creas­ing lev­els of op­er­a­tional costs for com­muter rail.

He e cal­cu­lated from rail op­er­a­tion fig­ures that the sub­sidy for each pas­sen­ger per kilo­me­tre trav­elled on Auck­land trains was 65c, in com­par­i­son with 16c for Welling­ton.

The Auck­land com­muter rail op­er­a­tion has a ma­jor cost prob­lem as well as a sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue loss prob­lem, Lee says in a re­port pre­sented to the bud­get com- mit­tee. Casey says it’s not clear why there is a dis­par­ity in op­er­a­tional fig­ures and whether it is jus­ti­fied and af­ford­able.

She says the Auck­land public de­serves to know how their money is be­ing spent.

‘‘In light of the levy we have voted to sup­port, we are owed to know each penny has been ac­counted for,’’ she says.

The coun­cil’s bud­get com­mit­tee has asked chief ex­ec­u­tive Stephen Town to work with Auck­land Trans­port to re­port back on the cost­ings and op­tions for po­ten­tial cost sav­ings.

‘‘I’m get­ting re­ally ner­vous and I will only be sat­is­fied if Auck­land Trans­port say yes to coun­cil­lor Lee’s in­quiry into the price dif­fer­ences,’’ Casey says.

Casey says sup­port­ing the levy was a hard de­ci­sion but the coun­cil needed to start ad­dress­ing Auck­land’s trans­port prob­lems.

‘‘We just can’t put our heads in the sand and let Auck­land keep grind­ing to a halt.’’

Mt Eden home­owner Mar­garet Bijl says in­creas­ing rates won’t make the city’s trans­port and hous­ing prob­lems go away overnight.

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