The adopted budget includes an average net 8 percent rates increase and includes significant decisions on council housing and the future of the Southern Landfill. Library overdue fees have also been removed and a proposed increase in road encroachment fees has been dialled-back.
Proposed changes to Fees and User Charges for 2022/23 Annual Plan (259KB PDF).
Mayor Foster says there's no doubt this Annual Plan has been a challenging process. “We continue to face significant cost increases to deliver existing services, respond to earthquake and resilience issues, Let’s Get Wellington Moving, and increased investment in our three-waters networks, Te Ngākau Civic Precinct and the Central Library. We also face issues related to interest and depreciation costs and increased inflation costs.
“We were looking at an average net rates increase of 9.1 percent as signalled in the 2021-31 Long-term Plan. It's been a balancing act to remain fiscally responsible, not put an unbearable burden on ratepayers, keep delivering services and maintain our facilities to the level that Wellingtonians expect, despite inflation rising from 1.5% from March 2021 to 6.9% to March 2022,” says Mayor Foster.
“We know many people and businesses in Wellington have been financially impacted by the challenges over the past couple of years and that an average 9.1% rates increase would be challenging. Therefore, along with borrowing to offset the pandemic impacts and combined with $32 million in savings already achieved and forecasted, we are keeping rates as low as possible.”
Some properties may have a lower or greater than net 8 percent increase to their rates invoice due to the city-wide property revaluations in 2021 that saw an average increase in value of 52 percent. If the increase in a property value was higher than the average increase for Wellington, the rates increase for that property will be higher than the average 8 percent net increase.
The Council uses property values to allocate the rates it needs to collect between all ratepayers – it doesn’t collect more rates just because capital values have increased and it doesn’t collect less rates revenue if CVs have decreased.
Feedback from the community has resulted in the removal of library overdue fees and a reduction in the proposed increase in road encroachment fees.
To address concerns from encroachment fee holders, the fees will only be increased from $13.33/m2 (excl GST) to $17.77/m2 (excl GST), and licence/lease fee payers will be able to pay in quarterly instalments. Further work will be done on the encroachment policy before any further increases are proposed.
Long-term Plan amendments
Elected members voted to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the City Council’s social housing by establishing a community housing trust to lease and manage the social housing portfolio.
As a community housing provider, the trust will have access to the government’s Income Related Rent Subsidy (IRRS), making its rents more affordable for eligible future tenants and providing access to funding for new social housing to be built in Pōneke. All existing tenancies will be secure in the establishment of the trust and tenants will be fully supported during the transition period.
Councillor Rebecca Matthews, Chair of the Pūroro Maherehere Annual Plan/Long-term Plan Committee, is pleased with the decision in principle to create a community housing provider (CHP). "This is the next step in the journey to make the Council’s social housing secure for the future."
Cr Matthews is also glad to see the needs of current tenants also considered. "While new tenants coming to the CHP will be able to access the IRRS, it’s really important we continue to provide warm, safe, dry and affordable homes to our existing tenants.”
The future of the Southern Landfill was decided - with approval to ‘piggyback’ a new landfill on top of the existing landfill. It is scheduled to be operational when the existing consents expire in 2026.
“The ‘piggyback’ option is the most preferred by the Council and the majority of those who submitted on the landfill options,” says Mayor Foster.
He adds a significant programme of work, including projects like the Moa Point sludge minimisation facility, is underway to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by a third by 2026.
Construction of the ‘piggyback’ landfill will be staged once resource consent has been granted. The consent application is planned to be lodged later this year.
The final Annual Plan will be available on wellington.govt.nz by the end of July.