Getting a raw deal with our roads

LETTER

Re: Those causing road damage should pay, October 28 letter.

Options to ensure forestry contributes its fair share to road maintenance must be made a priority. The tonnage of logs is expected to increase dramatically over the next couple of years so, unless this issue is addressed urgently, further council deficits and rates increases seem inevitable.

Ratepayers contributed approximately $20 million towards maintaining our roads over the last financial year.

A recent request to NZTA for information on how much fuel tax and road user charges our region contributes determined that this regional data is not actually available.

All they could confirm was an estimate of the kilometres travelled based on odometer readings when issuing vehicle certificates or warrants of fitness. This represented 0.9 percent of the national total, suggesting our region contributed at least $30m last year in fuel tax and road user charges, of the $3.3 billion paid to the National Land Transport Fund.

Add this $30m to the $20m we contributed in rates and it is clear that at $50m, we are getting a raw deal. The total spend on roading, indicated in the council’s Annual Report summary in Saturday night’s Gisborne Herald, was only $33.9m.

This also makes a nonsense of the suggestion that Eastland Community Trust should come to the council’s rescue and use “more” community money to bail them out. As if we haven’t already paid enough.

Forestry must be made to pay its share. However, instead of a log levy, an additional or increased regional road user charge, along similar lines to the proposed new fuel tax for Auckland, might be a better option.

As an existing tax, targeted to fund road maintenance, this would avoid the duplication and cost of implementing a new levy.

The new Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, made it clear on Q&A yesterday morning that he has not been approached by any other district councils, except Auckland, on this matter. Come on GDC, let’s see some action on this issue.

Rick Thorpe

Re: Those causing road damage should pay, October 28 letter.

Options to ensure forestry contributes its fair share to road maintenance must be made a priority. The tonnage of logs is expected to increase dramatically over the next couple of years so, unless this issue is addressed urgently, further council deficits and rates increases seem inevitable.

Ratepayers contributed approximately $20 million towards maintaining our roads over the last financial year.

A recent request to NZTA for information on how much fuel tax and road user charges our region contributes determined that this regional data is not actually available.

All they could confirm was an estimate of the kilometres travelled based on odometer readings when issuing vehicle certificates or warrants of fitness. This represented 0.9 percent of the national total, suggesting our region contributed at least $30m last year in fuel tax and road user charges, of the $3.3 billion paid to the National Land Transport Fund.

Add this $30m to the $20m we contributed in rates and it is clear that at $50m, we are getting a raw deal. The total spend on roading, indicated in the council’s Annual Report summary in Saturday night’s Gisborne Herald, was only $33.9m.

This also makes a nonsense of the suggestion that Eastland Community Trust should come to the council’s rescue and use “more” community money to bail them out. As if we haven’t already paid enough.

Forestry must be made to pay its share. However, instead of a log levy, an additional or increased regional road user charge, along similar lines to the proposed new fuel tax for Auckland, might be a better option.

As an existing tax, targeted to fund road maintenance, this would avoid the duplication and cost of implementing a new levy.

The new Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, made it clear on Q&A yesterday morning that he has not been approached by any other district councils, except Auckland, on this matter. Come on GDC, let’s see some action on this issue.

Rick Thorpe

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Poll

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    Do you think the benefits of forestry to the region outweigh its negative impacts?
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