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Wellington Council told to Constrain Rate Rises

Wellington City Council told to Constrain Rate Rises

Wellington City Council has made a major contribution in revitalising the city but it needs to constrain its spending and limit its rate increases according to the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber CEO Charles Finny made the comments in presenting the Chamber’s submission on the Council’s Draft Annual Plan to councillors this morning. Click here for a copy of the submission.

“The Draft Annual Plan provides for a 6.3% increase in its total rates take. Adjusted for an increase in growth in the ratepayer base, WCC puts the increase at 4.8%,”said Mr Finny.

“Wellington City’s rate rise is lower than many other councils in the region but we think it is too high. A recent Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce survey found that 68% of businesses agreed.

“We are concerned about the rapid growth in the cost of many activities as well as the size of the council generally.

“To mitigate the potential for inefficient practices and wasteful expenditure, the Chamber encourages more scrutiny of costs as well as a thorough and continual assessment of non-essential expenditure within the council’s operations.

“In addition to the overall rise in council spending and rates, we have strong concerns about the impost of rates falling unfairly on business compared to other categories of rate-payers. Several rate-funded council activities seem to be more to the benefit of residential rate-payers than to businesses. For example, while we are pleased the business differential is being phased down we are concerned that the downtown levy is growing.

“We support the council’s events attraction activities (funded at the current level) but do not accept they should be fully funded by business and we are opposed to the downtown levy funding 100% of tourism promotion and other activities.

“The consultation round is very important but not enough interest in it is shown by rate-payers. In our submission, we have identified a number of things that deserve more scrutiny.

“Notwithstanding the outstanding contribution WCC has made in revitalising the city, we believe that if the council is to maximise its performance it needs to be closely monitored by an independent party or groups such as ours,” Mr Finny concluded.

ENDS

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