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Proposed regional rates increase excessive

Last week Kāpiti Coast District councillors were hearing from locals with feedback on our long term plan for Kāpiti; this week they’ve been presenting feedback to Greater Wellington Regional Council on their ten-year plan for the Wellington Region.

Several councillors joined Mayor Gurunathan in making a case to Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) yesterday on behalf of Kāpiti residents, with Mayor Gurunathan saying that the proposed GWRC rates increase was excessive and unacceptable.

“Greater Wellington Regional Council has proposed a 6.7 per cent average rates increase across the region in 2018/19, but this amounts to a 14.1 per cent average increase for Kāpiti residents,” Mayor Gurunathan says.

“GWRC has not considered affordability of its rates for Kāpiti residents. With some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country, and many retirees on fixed incomes, we have serious concerns residents in some areas will not be able to afford the new rates.

“Household incomes in Kāpiti are nearly 30% lower than across the whole region and some areas, such as Ōtaki and Waikanae West, are particularly disadvantaged. This needs to be considered when looking at how the rates bill is shared across the Wellington Region.”

Mayor Gurunathan says that lack of equity for Ōtaki ratepayers is also a real concern, given the limited public transport services available to them.

“There are very few bus services available for those travelling to the Waikanae Station to connect with Wellington-bound trains. If you’re working a nine-to-five job in Wellington you only have two buses available to get from Ōtaki to the train and only one bus returning at night, at around 7pm.”

“A differential for Ōtaki ratepayers would reflect the service they receive, as the proposed one for Wairarapa residents does.”

Kāpiti Coast District Council provides support for low-income ratepayers finding it difficult to pay their rates, with up to $200,000 budgeted for rates relief next year.

“GWRC makes no contribution to this. It is currently funded entirely by Kāpiti ratepayers, and we’re asking GWRC to contribute towards their share of this cost,” says the Mayor.

The Greater Wellington Regional Council long term plan is due to be finalised next month.

“As GWRC Chairman Chris Laidlaw said, it’s a debate that he’s happy to continue – and it’s possible that the rates increase for Kāpiti won’t be as high as 14 per cent once their plans are finalised.”

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