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City Plan Deserves Close Scrutiny

Media Release
16 April 2008

City Plan Deserves Close Scrutiny

The Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce will closely scrutinise the Wellington City Council’s draft annual plan, just released today.

“We are particularly focussed on new spending proposals and how they will be paid for,” said Chamber CEO, Charles Finny.

“Our initial reaction is there is a lot to be pleased about but there are also a number of things causing us concern.

“While a 4.8% rate increase is less than many other councils around the country are imposing it is still too much - especially as it comes in tandem with some quite significant increases in user charges.

“We are pleased that the agreed phase-down of WCC’s business rate differential is to be resumed this year with the differential being reduced from 4.2 to 3.8. While this is still too high - businesses will pay 3.8 times as much as residences per dollar of rateable property irrespective of the benefits they receive, the rebalancing is encouraging.

“We will be paying particularly close attention to the climate change initiatives proposed by the council. While many of the proposals to reduce the city’s emissions seem sensible, we have concerns about the council’s overall vision of a carbon neutral Wellington.

“As we told the select committee looking at the Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill before Parliament today, climate change is a critical global issue and the Chamber is strongly supportive of sound international measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However we would be very anxious about unilateral actions that impact negatively on the city’s competitiveness.

“Monitoring the performance of the local councils is a key component of the Chamber’s core business.

“While the consultation round is very important, the process is probably very expensive. To make it more meaningful we will be focusing our efforts on both council officials and councillors this year. We know there are a lot of submissions to wade through but the 10 minute hearing submitters were given last year is not enough time to make their points,” Mr Finny concluded.


ENDS

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