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Council responds to community concerns

Council responds to community concerns

Hutt City Council is on track financially according to Mayor David Ogden, commenting on the Council’s Annual Plan and Long Term Community Plan adopted on Tuesday.

“We have responded to the community’s calls to reallocate spending in favour of addressing stormwater problems in the City. Council included an additional $4.0m of spending on stormwater improvements over the $13.0m included in the Draft LTCCP.”

“In reality, we have tripled stormwater capital spending from its level in 2003/2004. Council has now budgeted a total of $17.0m on stormwater improvements over the next ten years,” said Mayor Ogden.

“This has been mainly funded by savings from not pursuing the Hutt Park development proposal, which saved around $3.0m.

“At the same time, rates will be held to below the rate of inflation. Budgeted savings in a number of areas, together with expected contributions from development towards infrastructure costs, mean the Council has also been able to make good progress on its debt reduction goals,” said Mayor Ogden.

Last year’s Long Term Financial Strategy showed debt at $52.0m in ten years time. The Plan signed off yesterday by Hutt City Council shows debt falling to $24.0m after 10 years.

The interest savings are significant according to Mayor Ogden.

“Over the next ten years, the Council will be spending around $6.0m less on interest than it forecast last year. Interest costs over this period are forecast to be $39.0m.

The good news for ratepayers is that by 2010, average rates in Hutt City will be below the average of other city councils. Last year, they were eight per cent higher.

“While actual rates will vary with inflation and property value changes, the important thing is that we’ve got a plan for rates in Hutt City to be below the average of city councils within five years.

“Not only will lower debt enable lower rates, but it means a healthier balance sheet and the ability for Council to readily borrow in future years should the need to finance major infrastructure become apparent.” Mr Ogden said.

Mayor Ogden praised the constructive manner in which Councillors deliberated on the plan and the high level of interest from the public reflected in the 1,000 submissions received.

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