Some Additional Ideas for Closing the Council Revenue Gap
Yesterday I covered the board revealed it had a $270 million operating cost gap it needed to fill, largely caused by inflation and higher-than-expected interest charges. Many public discussions have already started on how to solve this problem and they seem to focus on things such as the sale of the council’s airport shares or the lease of port operations.
I suggested a few areas the board could also turn to, such as:
- Get a better deal from the government
- Focus funding on areas where it is really needed
- Sell certain public golf courses
I’ve also been thinking a bit more about some things that could be done in the transportation area, so I thought I’d share a few more ideas, and ones that might benefit the council not just now, but also in the future. , as well as items that align with the current long-term strategic goals of the board and government.
No more street parking fees
Currently we only charge for street parking in a few locations in the area. Auckland Transport Parking Strategy Project aims to improve parking management around Auckland and in many cases this means more proactive management. The strategy even highlights where the initial focus for on-street parking management would happen.
With the council in need of additional revenue, perhaps one option could be a rapid rollout of paid parking in many of the locations identified by the strategy. As well as generating revenue for the council, this will help encourage people to use other modes of transport if they can, helping to reduce both emissions and congestion – which can be exacerbated by people who turn in circles in search of a space. Those who want or need to drive will also find it easier to park.
And if you need another reason why we should charge more for on-street parking, a high-level estimate is that taxpayers currently subsidize free on-street parking by $1 billion a year:
in the “free” car park@MobilityMichael“We estimate that the Council provides about 600,000 free parking lots…about 900 hectares…if you value it like the adjacent land…you’re looking at an effective subsidy of about $1 billion a year from ratepayers to free parking lots.”
—Alec Tang 鄧振揚 (@AlecTang_) March 31, 2022
Better parking enforcement and higher fines
Even without charging for more street parking, greater enforcement is needed. Over the past five years or so, it seems like the number of cars parked on sidewalks, in bike lanes, in driveways, in our public spaces, etc., has increased dramatically. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the main one is lack of enforcement fear, which means people think it’s cheaper to get a weird fine than to pay for daily parking, like this example from Dunedin.
I DID THE CALCULATIONS. I got $221 in fines in about 37 weeks. Renting a park would cost around $50 per week (current Wilson special is $48.75, DCC equivalent is $46.50). I saved about $1500. I’m welcome pic.twitter.com/srkxezf54P
—Sinead Gill (@sinead_gill) October 26, 2022
Along with stricter enforcement, AT needs to impose higher fines because, as this recent RNZ article notesAT often do not profit from enforcement actions.
AT could issue $40 fines for sidewalk parking violations, and in the past seven months has issued nearly 6,000 of those fines, or about $240,000 in total.
However, in issuing a violation, AT had to spend over $30 on average, plus additional fees to tow a vehicle, which means the organization could actually be losing money enforcing the law.
And if increasing the fines requires government action, then the board and AT need to advocate strongly for this to happen.
Getting vehicles off curbs is essential, especially for people with disabilities, those who need to use mobility devices, and parents with strollers, for whom an inappropriately and illegally parked vehicle may force them out into traffic or find another route. This also from this RNZ article:
People in wheelchairs often followed routes with well-designed crossings and ramps that they knew they could navigate safely, she said.
“Suddenly having this barrier in the way of an improperly parked vehicle throws you completely out, and you may need to reverse your course and find an alternate route.”
For people with visual impairments, the path could be even more difficult to negotiate.
“Suddenly there is this obstacle in the way… Will they enter the road to get out of the way?” said Naylor.
“They have no idea what traffic is coming their way and the more electric cars we have, the quieter the traffic will be.
“It just adds to the danger of it all.”
Park & Ride Refill
As with on-street parking, AT should be encouraged to urgently implement paid parking at park and ride facilities, and as with on-street parking, this is also part of the parking strategy.
Although Park & Ride lots will continue to cater for and focus on longer stays, they will also be priced to encourage access by other modes where possible and to recognize the cost of providing parking facilities.
Residential parking permit
Auckland Transport has deployed Residential parking permit at 18 locations, most of which are on the outskirts of the city centre.
A residential parking zone is an area where eligible residents and businesses can apply for parking permits and coupons that give exemption from parking restrictions.
The main idea behind these zones is that it is easier for local residents to park their cars on the street while normal parking restrictions help discourage commuters who park on the streets and often walk or take a bus the last kilometers in the city.
For residents of these areas, the zones are extremely valuable as they not only make it easier to park and use their car, potentially encouraging them to drive more, but for those who have off-street parking, they can make these more valuable properties. the space can be converted for other uses.
The real boost with these permits is the cost, with just $70 per year an absolute bargain.
My understanding of why the cost is so low comes down to legislation only allowing councils to charge only the administration fee, rather than something closer to the true value of these spaces. As with street parking, the council and AT probably have to push for this to change.
Red light cameras
As with illegal parking, running a red light has become an epidemic in Auckland and whenever it happens there is a chance it will end in tragedy.
—Alec Tang 鄧振揚 (@AlecTang_) November 8, 2022
The council should push for a massive deployment of red-light cameras and strike a deal with the government to ensure that any revenue they generate goes to the council – ideally every intersection would have one.
None of the above ideas alone, or even in combination, will likely be enough to close the $270 million revenue gap – but could help close the size of the gap while improving other areas like security. . They should at least be in the mix of things reviewed.