Wellington Scoop

Show us the money

by Rohan Biggs
As the election season hots up, Mayoral candidates are trying to outdo each other in convincing voters they have the answers to transport, housing, earthquake prone buildings, and climate change.

Against this backdrop, it is worth remembering that based just on current plans and known financial issues, the Wellington City Council needs to almost double its revenue over the next ten years, in addition to completely exhausting its debt capacity. Many of the election promises being thrown about will only worsen that.

If people got a shock when they saw how much their rates bill went up this year, then they need to be warned that it was probably the lowest increase they’ll get for a decade unless they vote for change.

The Council has been sleepwalking financially for several years. They took a relatively healthy situation and they’ve blown it by spending on vanity projects and virtue signaling. It’s inevitable that we’ll have to spend money on Wellington’s pressing issues, so we should be disciplined around the ‘nice-to-haves’ and make sure we have the cash for what we need.

I think it’s time to make respect for your money the number one guiding principle for the Council. I think the Council should start with a budget constraint and work out what is affordable, rather than starting with a wish-list and then calculating how much your rates need to go up by.

I do financial management for a living, and I’m putting my hand up because I’m so appalled at the lack of financial leadership and discipline being shown. You might not want fifteen people like me around that table, but Wellington definitely needs at least one.

Rohan Biggs is a candidate for Wharangi Onslow Western Ward.