Almost $300 million has been collected in the two years Aucklanders have been paying a Regional Fuel Tax, with 1 NEWS revealing nearly half of that is waiting to be spent.
Auckland Council has received $274 million from the tax since 2018, but it's only spent $133 million, leaving $141 million sitting unused.
The Matakana Link Road is the latest project paid for by Auckland's controversial fuel tax, the project aimed at reducing congestion and frustration at one of the city’s worst intersections.
“Aucklanders are sitting in traffic and I think they'll be outraged there's $141m of their money sitting around doing nothing except earning interest for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, which should be being spent on congestion busting transport projects,” National transport spokesperson Chris Bishop said.
The tax has so far gone towards projects such as bus improvements, road safety, the Eastern Busway and downtown ferry terminal.
“They [Aucklanders] expect it to be spent on transport projects, things like the North Western Busway to ease congestion,” Mr Bishop said.
Auckland Transport and the council say there's a very good reason for the delay in spending.
The money is allocated but often isn't dished out until the project is completed.
“Every dollar will be spent, sometimes it will be delayed, sometimes it'll be brought forward, it depends on the nature of the project,” Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said.
Matt Lowrie, editor of transport and urban design blog Greater Auckland, said the priority was to spend the money on good projects.
“So it's not a concern that we're not spending it all right now, it's that we've got the money there to do it, but we need to make sure that we are spending it and we need to absolutely make sure that we are spending it on good projects,” Mr Lowrie said.
Aucklanders say they just want transport options.
National pledges to axe the fuel tax but the mayor has made a pledge of his own.
“Every dollar that is raised for the regional fuel tax will go to the purposes to which it was intended,” Mr Goff said.