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Porirua City Sets City Direction

Porirua City Council’s Te Puna Kōrero Committee met today to deliberate and make decisions on the draft Long-term Plan (LTP), which sets the city’s budget and direction for the next ten years.

Today’s committee recommendations, made after considering all community feedback, will be incorporated into the final LTP to be brought to Council on 27 June for adoption and the setting of rates for 2024/25.

In introducing the deliberations report, Chief Executive Wendy Walker said this LTP was the most challenging of her career in local government. This Council was faced with a number of issues including delays to water reform, alarmingly escalating costs for all projects, and failing infrastructure due to decades of under-investment - not of this council’s making.

After stripping as much as possible out of the budget, the draft LTP has an average rates increase of 17.5 per cent for residential ratepayers.

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker said the council had to make some difficult decisions to get rates to that level, deferring, stopping or reprioritising a number of projects.

The LTP had four focus areas, being three waters, affordability, getting the balance sheet right, and climate resilience and sustainability. Of the city’s overall budget, 55 per cent would be invested in three waters infrastructure.

In today’s deliberations - in front of a full public gallery - the committee agreed to an amendment brought by Councillor Kathleen Filo, to fully fund an upgrade to the Rukutane Point Pump Station near Titahi Bay, by reprioritising funding allocated for other Wellington Water projects.

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This decision will be included in the final LTP brought to council later this month.

On the key proposal consulted on in the LTP, the committee agreed to introduce a new rates-funded kerbside rubbish and recycling collection service from 2027/28. Officers will consult with the community on the details of the service before any changes are made.

Mayor Baker praised the month-long engagement process for the LTP, which included 20 face-to-face events across the city and led to a big increase in community feedback.

"We received 517 submissions on this LTP, which is up about 50 per cent on last time so that’s a great result," she said.

For the first time, Council introduced the option of making submissions by video, and almost 200 of these were received - 90 per cent of which came from Pacific people.

"We want to hear the voices of everyone in our city, which is why we included this new option as well as traditional written submissions. We hope this will continue to grow and we’ll see even more people taking part in the democratic process."

One of the themes that came through strongly in the video submissions was a desire for council to provide funding to Te Kiwa Nui Charitable Trust to help run the Te Kiwa Nui Polyfest event, which has been held in Porirua for 45 years.

Mayor Baker said the Council listened to each one of those requests and was happy to be able to lock in support for the next three years, to the value of $50,000 each year.

"This is a really special event, not just for our young people and their families, but also for the city as a whole," she said.

The LTP also included grants for Wellington Free Ambulance, Surf Life Saving New Zealand, Mana Volunteer Coastguard, Wellington Life Flight Trust and Citizen’s Advice Bureau. All grants will come from existing budgets and will not impact proposed rating levels.

"Everything that we’ve agreed to fund are what makes a city what it is - we need to have them," Mayor Baker said.

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