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Hutt City Rates To Increase 3.3%

Hutt City Rates To Increase 3.3%

Hutt City Council's Long Term Council Community Plan spending plans will result in an average residential rate increase of 3.3 per cent next year.

Council's draft Community Plan 2003-2013 forecast an average rate increase of 3.2 per cent and at the end of deliberations last week, and after including initiatives presented in submissions to Council, the proposed rate increase was forecast at 3.7 per cent.

However, because of growth in the city's rating base the average residential rate increase has been adjusted down to 3.3 per cent.

Average business rates will increase only 0.8 per cent.

"This is significantly below the sector average of 6.7 per cent and still makes Hutt City's rates increases over the past seven years the lowest in the region, said Hutt City Mayor John Terris.

"The spending plans Council has adopted are aimed at 'future proofing' Hutt City.

"We will do this through careful spending to maintain and enhance the city's infrastructure and continuing our investment in sustainable economic development, while continuing the careful financial management that has allowed us in recent years to invest in our city's future," said Mayor Terris.

Major projects that included in the Community Plan are:

· $500,000 to continue the upgrade of the Walter Nash Stadium

· $900,000 for an expansion of Petone's Settler's Museum to accommodate the social history of the city

· $400,000 over the next three years for the Wingate Development Plan, which focuses on infrastructure development to improve the Wingate area

· $150,000 to redevelop and improve Naenae shopping centre

· $50,000 to Development Wainuiomata

· An additional $50,000 for small business assistance - to develop innovative programmes, such as the recent awarding of scholarships to small business managers to improve their skills (90% of businesses in Hutt City have between 0-10 employees).

"I am pleased to report that the controversy of the future of the Library has finally been resolved, with a sum of $3.055m being set aside for an upgrade, which will include earthquake strengthening, an increase of about 25% in the floor area, together with a new entranceway.

"I believe we have struck a good balance between the need to maintain fiscal discipline and addressing some of the city's more pressing infrastructure needs."

Net debt per capita is now 30 per cent below Hutt City's peer average. Seven years ago it was 35 per cent higher than the peer average. By 2011 it will be 60 per cent below the peer average.

"Council also received a number of new funding requests, approximately 30, during the hearings process and I am pleased that we have been able to support many of these very worthy projects.

"This clearly demonstrates the value in residents getting involved in Council's planning processes and that, if people have worthy projects that provide value to the city, then we will do our best to support them."

The Local Government Act 2002 requires Council to promote the social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being of the community. There is also a requirement to more closely link Council's activities with Community Outcomes.

"Council was very mindful of the need to think carefully about how each of the projects put up for consideration could contribute to Community Outcomes and, if one were to look at the projects we have funded, I think we have succeeded in ensuring those linkages," said Mayor Terris.

Social development will be enhanced through a range of initiatives, including:

· The creation of a Contestable Fund for Community Groups, to apply to, which will distribute $200,000 for projects to benefit the community

· $25,000 to the Life Flight Trust

· $20,000 to a new Settler's Centre

"Environmental projects have also been given a big boost, reflecting the fact that 'clean air, water and land was identified in focus group research as residents' number one Community Outcome," said Mayor Terris.

Environmental initiatives include:

· $500,000 for the Petone Foreshore

· $135,000 for waste minimisation programmes

· $10,000 for the upgrading of the Waiwhetu Stream

· $5,000 for the introduction of the North Island Brown Kiwi at the Rimutaka Forest Park

· $30,000 for a Green Army Coordinator to help and encourage community involvement in "green "activity.

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