Council Finalises Plan and 3.27% Average Rates Rise

30 June 2009

Wellington City Council finalised its Long-Term Council Community Plan last night - agreeing on a plan that will mean an average real rates increase for 2009/10 of 3.27 percent.

The average real rates increase takes into account the increased number of ratepayers in the city but the percentage increase will vary between ratepayers.

In approving the plan, the Council confirmed funding and support for a number of projects and initiatives including the indoor community sports centre and plans to open Manners Mall to buses and create new public space in lower Cuba Street, as well as a multitude of essential and recreational services that Wellingtonians depend on and enjoy.   

The long-term plan, which has been developed over the last eight months, contains detailed plans for the next three years and a guide for the following seven. Audit New Zealand has overseen its development as well as the consultation and submission process and last night confirmed the plan met all requirements, complimenting the Council on its plan and consultation process.

Mayor Prendergast says the Council is grateful for, and has considered the views of the hundreds of Wellingtonians who made submissions on the draft long-term plan, and the many more who have provided feedback in other ways such as taking part in community meetings, signing electronic submissions or sending letters to Councillors. It was particularly pleasing that 38 percent of submissions came from people who had not commented on a Council annual or long-term plan before.

"Some supported an expansion of services, while others preferred the status quo. Very few submitters wanted to see major cuts to the work we currently do."

She says the Council has been very conscious that the challenging economic times are affecting Wellington ratepayers and businesses, that there is concern about jobs and finances, and that any rates rise needed to be at an affordable level.

"At the same time we believed it was important to continue to invest in the events and projects that make Wellington such a great place to live, visit and do business. Over the past 10 years we have invested in the city's infrastructure and key services - transport, water, waste - and in parks, events, festivals, venues and artistic and creative endeavours.

"We wanted to sustain this momentum - to focus on areas that will make a difference, while reducing costs by making modest alterations to some services that will not unduly impact on the high quality of life Wellingtonians experience." 

She says the alternative would have been to make deep cuts that could cost local jobs, remove important services, and make Wellington less vibrant, less competitive, and a less enjoyable place to live.

"I believe we have agreed on a strong programme - one that is affordable, and will position us as a vibrant, internationally competitive city. Some of the decisions have not been easy, but we are elected to determine and address the city's future long-term needs. That involves weighing up information and advice from city managers and a wide range of competing views and interests."

Mayor Prendergast says providing for the well-being of communities, both now and into the future, is the biggest challenge that local authorities face.

"It involves providing essential services - bringing water to Wellington's homes and businesses, collecting and safely disposing of waste, providing roads and footpaths, looking after parks and gardens, protecting our heritage and environment and overseeing building, land development and public health.

"It also involves - in our view, and I am sure that of most Wellingtonians - other things that make vital contributions to our quality of life and the city's prosperity," she says. "People value our swimming pools, recreation centres, libraries, the City Art Gallery and museums while the events we support bring people together and contribute to the city's vibrancy and economic strength."