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Council To Vote On Investing In Infrastructure And Resilience

Resilience and transport are key focuses of Wellington City Council’s draft 2020/21 Annual Plan consultation document which will be debated by the Mayor and Councillors this Thursday 19 March.

“This year’s draft plan seeks to address some of the big issues facing our city, while still providing core services and maintaining Wellington to ensure it remains a capital city fit for the future,” Mayor Andy Foster says.

The total proposed rates increase is 9.2 percent after growth in the ratepayer base. There is also an option for a 7.9 percent increase, but that would not address the additional infrastructure and planning that is required. The 2018/28 Long-term Plan signalled a rise of 7.1 percent.

The proposed rates increase is made up of 5.2 percent for day-to-day services, 0.9 percent for the Let’s Get Wellington Moving transport project and 3.1 percent for resilience related projects, which includes water infrastructure, Te Ngākau Civic Precinct, and advancing the work on the Central Library.

Mayor Foster says the Council needs to focus on addressing infrastructure issues. ”It’s clear through recent events with our water network, through our traffic congestion, and through our earthquake-damaged buildings that we need to take action now.

“It’s especially important that part of the rates rise this year will enable us to better investigate our pipe network, including detecting leaks, assessing the pipe conditions, and checking private connections.

“Te Ngākau Civic Precinct is the heart of the city. We need to plan well for its future and not delay the work that needs to be done to bring back the civic heart of our city.

“Usually we are able to deliver our day-to-day services with a 3 to 5 percent rates rise that takes into account depreciation and inflation,” Mayor Foster says.

“However this year, a revaluation of our core infrastructure has seen them increase in value, which has resulted in an increase in the depreciation costs that need to be funded from rates. It allows us to replace our assets in years to come. That is why the proposed increase in core services is 5.2 percent.

“We’ve done our best to minimise the rates rise by also setting an organisational savings target of $3.2 million, which will see the Council reduce its spending, and also change some fees and charges, such as building consent fees, to increase the Council’s revenue. We’re also proposing carrying more risk ourselves to reduce insurance costs, which can be significant.

“We’re also very conscious that COVID-19 will have an adverse economic impact on many businesses and households. Therefore I have asked the Chief Executive to explore all practical options for how the rates impact could be mitigated further and to report back with options in June, when we are scheduled to finalise the Annual Plan and strike the rates.”

The draft budget options and consultation document will be considered by Councillors at the Annual Plan and Long-term Plan Committee this Thursday 19 March.

The final recommendations, including the decision on the proposed rates increase, will be adopted by the full Council on 2 April.

The public will be able to have their say from 3 April to 10 May.

The final Annual Plan will be adopted on Wednesday 24 June.

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