Regional fuel tax might work: Cull

Dave Cull
Dave Cull

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says a fuel tax such as that proposed for Auckland may be something that could raise money for infrastructure in Dunedin, but mayors in the rest of the region have not supported the idea.

Mr Cull pointed to the Port Chalmers cycle/walkway as one project a regional fuel tax could help pay for.

The Government announced last week it would introduce the tax in Auckland to fund transport infrastructure.

It has also indicated it will look at how councils are resourced in the face of other multimillion-dollar infrastructure requirements for the likes of water and waste.

Mr Cull, who is also Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) president, said the fuel tax ''might'' be something that could be used outside Auckland.

He said such a tax was appropriate for funding transportation infrastructure, but other mechanisms would be more appropriate for other needs.

''Across the country there are instances where there are transportation infrastructure needs, and there's even money within the NZ Transport Agency available, but there's not sufficient resource in the local body to match the funding, so nothing happens.''

The cycle/walkway to Port Chalmers was an example where a lack of resources was the problem.

''That would be a candidate for that sort of funding.''

''It's about all road users contributing to make the whole system safer and more efficient.''

Some motorists might argue such a scenario was a petrol tax going towards cycleways, but the spending would make the roads safer and more efficient for everybody.

On the Government's commitment to reviewing local government costs and revenue, Mr Cull said LGNZ had been saying the revenue stream from rating property was not sustainable.

That could mean something like a new wastewater plant might not be affordable to a council.

The Labour Party talked about a tax working group, and Mr Cull said local government needed to be a part of that discussion.

''We want to be part of that working group.''

Jim Boult
Jim Boult

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said the fuel tax might work for Auckland but not for Queenstown, which had 5million visitor nights and just 16,000 ratepayers.

''Large numbers of people fly in here on aeroplanes, arriving on tour coaches, so their ability to contribute to our economy is limited through a petrol tax.''

Instead, he wanted a visitor levy, something he had said before ''constantly''.

However, he was encouraged by the Government's openness to considering ways of raising money for the regions.

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said local government ''needs something'', but he did not support a fuel tax.

The issue Clutha had was paying for infrastructure related to its tourism industry, which was ''not as advanced as most''.

The area had a declining and ageing population and the council could not keep going back to them for more money.

''It just seems so simple to put a tax on for tourists when they come in.

''We need it, and we need it now.''

Tim Cadogan
Tim Cadogan

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said the area's fuel was already more expensive than Auckland's, so he did not support a fuel tax.

Paying for expensive infrastructure was a problem.

The planned Cromwell wastewater treatment plant had a budget of $10 million and the Lake Dunstan water supply project would cost up to $17 million.

''We've got 20,000 people living here; that's pretty tough.''

Gary Kircher
Gary Kircher

Mr Cadogan said if GST from rates went back to councils, that would ''make a huge difference''.

He also wanted a fund for tourism infrastructure councils could rely on.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said people would have to think carefully before introducing a fuel tax, which should not just be a way of gathering more revenue.

He said the Waitaki was not struggling badly with expensive infrastructure costs. The council had ''bitten the bullet'' and had money in the bank.

''We're paying our way.''

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

Comments

Why should the motorists of Dunedin pay any levy so this council can waste $100 million on cycle infrastructure? Or the idiotic campaign to move to zero carbon?

Here we go again we want money

Here we go again, Dave Cull going against the people he represents and bringing in something that the majority would note vote for or need.