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Lower Hutt ratepayers could pay more for flood protection

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace is calling on Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) to abandon plans to change the funding structure for its flood protection work.

GWRC is proposing that 70% of the cost of flood protection be funded by a targeted rate on properties in the area where the work is taking place.

Mayor Wallace spoke in support of Hutt City Council’s submission at GWRC’s Long Term Plan hearings earlier today.

He said that the proposed change will put higher costs onto Lower Hutt ratepayers when the entire region benefits from economic development.

“Many of the proposals being made in GWRC’s own Long Term Plan emphasise the importance of regional economic growth. A serious flood event in Lower Hutt could cause a significant amount of damage and disruption to the regional economy and would hinder Lower Hutt’s ability to grow and contribute further.”

Mayor Wallace is also questioning the timing of these changes, given that significant commitments have already been made to Riverlink, a major flood protection project.

“I consider this to be a breach of good faith with Lower Hutt ratepayers because their support for major flood protection works in the Hutt Valley was obtained on the understanding that we would share costs 50-50 with GWRC. We’re happy to pay our fair share, but we entered into Riverlink on that basis.”

Mayor Wallace said that Hutt City Council and the local community should have been consulted before any changes were proposed and that it has strained the relationship with GWRC.

“For the past seven years we’ve had a very good working relationship with GWRC, but the people of Lower Hutt will not be happy if this goes through – it could add $60-70 per annum onto an average household’s rate bill.”

“I am open to having a future discussion with GWRC about changes to the way the flood protection rates are structured but we need more time to understand exactly what it will mean, and to have a proper conversation with our community about the implications of any change.”

Greater Wellington Regional Council will be making its decision next month.

ENDS

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