The nationwide campaign to reform the present system of council funding
[statement from David Thornton]
SkyPath costs heading to ratepayers in secret.
Exactly how much Auckland ratepayers are being stung for the SkyPath project is being discussed at the Town Hall today, in secret session.
SkyPath is a cycling/walking pathway which is to be attached to the eastern clip-on of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
From a $20 million project promoted a few short years ago years ago the project cost is now about $34 million – and the Council is to be the guarantor for an, as yet, unknown amount which has been labelled a “limited revenue underwrite”,
The project is being proposed as a Public Private Partnership with PIP, an infrastructure fund, which is to provide funds for the construction and operation of SkyPath.
A Business Plan produced three years ago suggested a levy of $2 for each visitor crossing which would provide all the necessary income to build and run the pathway over 20 year period. After that time a new Harbour Crossing would be in place and the current bridge would incorporate new cyclist/pedestrian facilities.
For the last two years little real cost and funding information has been presented to ratepayers, in particular there has been no new business case with realistic patronage forecasts.
It is that business case which will indicate the likely risk the Council will take on board under its guarantee. That guarantee itself is underwritten by ratepayers.
All this financial information is being presented to the Council under ‘Confidential’ at today’s Governing Body meeting.
The Council has already approved $995,000 (by the CEO under his delegated authority) to assist the SkyPath in obtain resource and building consent.
This whole process appears to have been driven by council staff, and elected councillors appear to have been relatively starved of financial information, despite huge sums being spent or promised so far.
The SkyPath Trust is now urging the Council to give the go-ahead to the project now on the basis that there is no alternative crossing likely to be available for more than 20 years when the new Harbour Crossing will be built.
However latest advice from Government is that the next crossing is more likely to be started in as little as 9 years.
While claiming that SkyPath will reduce traffic congestion by shifting people from cars to bikes, no credible figures have been produced to show a forecast breakdown of users between tourists, leisure visitors and commuters.
Its seems that ratepayers are again having their money spent at the whim of a council which is not in control of its spending decisions.
A media statements put out by David Thornton of No More Rates today shows how the Skypath project doesn't stack up. The case for Skypath is so weak decisions to fund the project have to be made in secret. Cycleway projects are white elephants that will cripple ratepayers for years to come. There is no viable business case for funding Skypath. The project will not in any way ease traffic congestion. It is a pure and simple waste of ratepayers' money. If Councillors are looking for ways to tackle its debt crisis they could start by cutting out this useless project.