Councils chase Govt for more funding for priority infrastructure projects
Auckland Council submitted a list of 73 priority projects to the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, the task force set up by the Government to seek out ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure projects that can start quickly to stimulate the economy and reduce the economic impact of COVID-19.
The list is made up of two parts: 30 key projects ranked in order of priority, and a further 43 projects that are not ranked, but that also meet the Government criteria. Most of these projects are funded in the council’s 10-year budget but face being deferred through the impact of Covid-19 crisis on the council’s revenue and ability to spend on infrastructure.
“The 30 key projects are ready to go and fully meet the Government’s criteria,” says Mayor Phil Goff.
“They will help stimulate the economy and employment and produce long-term benefits for both the city and country. They reflect the economic, social and environmental objectives that both Auckland Council and the Government have committed to.”
Many of the projects included in the submission were already underway or planned to start within the next 6-12 months, but have been put on hold due to the nationwide shutdown, including progress on the $4.4 billion City Rail Link currently jointly funded by council and the Government, the $1.4 billion Eastern Busway and the Puhinui Interchange.
Other projects submitted to the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group include: The Downtown Infrastructure Development Programme for the America’s Cup; North western Busway Improvements; Rosedale Bus Station; Te Whau Pathway; Puhinui Stream Restoration Programme; and housing projects in Northcote, Tamaki and Mt Roskill.
“Prior to COVID-19, Auckland Council was on track to deliver a capital works programme exceeding $2 billion for the financial year,” says Goff.
“As the region with a third of the nation’s population and almost 40 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, Auckland Council’s current and planned infrastructure programme will be absolutely critical to the success of this stimulus initiative.
“I am confident that we are ready and able to play our part in partnership with the Government and the construction industry.”
The chair of the Planning Committee, councillor Chris Darby, adds; “Not only are these projects ‘shovel-ready’, but they are also ‘future-ready’.
“This once in a generation investment will create jobs for Aucklanders who will build an enduring legacy for the city.”
SWDC applies for $60 million for post-crisis projects
The South Waikato District Council has applied to Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) for $60 million across a range of large infrastructure projects to be actioned post-lockdown.
While Central Government is providing funding to deliver significant financial stimulus across the economy and develop employment opportunities for a workforce that has lost jobs, the SWDC says it is working to make sure our district and community don’t miss out.
“Council staff have worked tirelessly over the past two weeks to develop applications and proposals amounting to $60 million,” says Ben Smit, the council’s chief executive.
“We want to be sure that the smaller councils in the regions – especially our own – aren’t overlooked in favour of the major metropolitans.”
“The South Waikato has shown steady and strong economic growth since 2015. The impact of COVID-19 must be minimised to ensure that our district recovers more quickly than we did from the global financial crisis of 2008,” says Mayor Jenny Shattock.
“We’ve worked hard over the past four years to move our economy into an upward swing. This work continues in earnest now.”
Mayor Shattock says financial assistance from Central Government is critical to the South Waikato’s continued success as we work together to pull through the current pandemic crisis.
The projects that Council has applied for funding assistance with include: Infrastructure development to support residential and business development in Putaruru, specifically the three waters infrastructure to deliver growth identified in the Putaruru Concept Plan.
The Tirau Domain accessibility enablement project to ensure safe and universal access to the domain facilities for the Tirau and wider community.
Wastewater treatment plant upgrades and wetland development throughout the district to deliver significant improvements to water quality in the upper Waikato and Waihou River catchment.
And the Maraetai Road Intermodal Business Park (MRIBP) to develop and deliver an industrial-zoned park adjoining the Tokoroa Road Rail Terminal.
Smit says that while the council will be co-funding these projects through existing budgets in the Long Term Plan, funding from the CIP to accelerate project delivery will mean the council won’t end up with unaffordable increases in rates and debt.