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Regional rates set at 6.89% for 2006/07

1 June 2006

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Regional rates set at 6.89% for 2006/07

Regional rates will rise by 6.89% on last year, Greater Wellington Regional Council decided today. The decision marks the finalisation of the 2006-16 Long-term Council Community Plan, incorporating the 2006/07 Annual Plan.

"The Council received over 400 submissions on the proposed plan," said Greater Wellington chairman Ian Buchanan. "Submitters were especially focused on transport and water supply issues. However, many of the public transport improvements planned for the next three years may be stymied through uncertainty access to government funding."

"We have huge investment in public transport planned, including continuing Wellington's trolley buses, securing a long-term contract for rail services and replacing electric train units. These items are urgent due to lack of investment over the last ten to fifteen years.

"We've put in place the ratepayer contribution and users will contribute through a public transport fare increase, but there is continued frustration in getting money already allocated by Government released by the transport funding agency, Land Transport New Zealand. Until we secure that funding, we may not be able to carry out all of the planned improvements."

"There is a significant increase in demand for public transport because of rising petrol prices and concerns about climate change," Cr Buchanan said. "It is vital that the Council delivers on these service upgrades if we are to meet that demand."

The final plan outlines the costs of current and projected transport projects. Greater Wellington has also had to budget an extra $400,000 for the increased price of diesel for its bus contracts and contribute a greater share (compared with government funding) for public transport investments over the next three years.

Apart from widespread support for increased spending on public transport, many submitters supported spending more money on improving flood protection.

"I am pleased to confirm that Greater Wellington will speed up its forty-year programme of major flood protection improvements in the Hutt Valley and Kapiti Coast, and, in addition to what was proposed, Greater Wellington will provide an extra $100,000 for maintenance of the Lower Wairarapa Valley Development Scheme. Recent floods have generated concerns from affected communities and it is important that we move to enhance our flood protection systems."

As well as confirming the big-ticket items of transport and flood protection, the final plan continues the Regional Council's investment in the parks network.

"Whitireia Park at Titahi Bay is scheduled to become part of our parks network, and, following public submissions we are pleased to be able to allocate $15,000 to the Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park to complete the Whareroa Stream restoration project," Cr Buchanan said.

Greater Wellington's biodiversity function and approach will be given greater emphasis in the final plan. There is continued commitment to soil conservation, riparian planting and other programmes in rural areas. The bulk water levy to the four metropolitan territorial authorities will not increase from last year. The final plan will be adopted and the 2006/07 rates set on 29 June.

ENDS


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