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  1. Rosamund Averton, 21. April 2020, 10:07

    The priority for Wellington is surely the upgrading of our “horizontal” infrastructure … that is, all and everything related to the carriage and delivery of water to all citizens. An excellent report was produced by a former WCC staffer Maria Archer about ten years ago; her report detailed all that was, and all that needed to be upgraded. Since then there have been many earthquakes disturbing the life blood of Wellington.

    I cannot imagine why the contract for the “convention centre” on reclaimed land should not be cancelled. Does anyone know what the break fee would be? The cleared site would make a great place for a waterfront mixed botanic garden filled with whatever will grow there. Maybe the return of the Ngaio taken from Waitangi Park when it was created on the polluted site!

  2. Traveller, 21. April 2020, 10:36

    Dr Condie’s arguments are all convincing. But she doesn’t address the central issue which is: whether or not most Wellingtonians can afford to pay another increase in their rates at this time of crisis.

  3. John M, 21. April 2020, 11:19

    Well said Traveller, that is the point that Cr Condie and this council seem incapable of grasping! Let’s leave all the “wildly” stuff for the moment and face reality. Our country and our city are in a very real crisis.

  4. michael, 21. April 2020, 11:36

    Dr Condie, you say the WCC will suffer “reputational damage from breaking the contract” for the Convention Centre. But in the face of the worldwide crisis which is causing unimaginable financial hardship for all countries, the only ones who are going to suffer reputational damage are city councillors if they don’t make hard decisions, and Willis Bond if they ignore the burden they would be placing on ratepayers by expecting “significant financial penalties” in times like this.

  5. NigelTwo, 21. April 2020, 12:39

    Dr Jenny. The global economic forecast is not consistent with the “boom time” rhetoric you have shoveled out here. Birds, WoW, cafes and Copenhagen indeed. We need some wildly creative thinking about how to manage recessionary times. Or is that too painful to contemplate? Just raise the rates instead.

  6. Dr Jennie Condie, 21. April 2020, 14:34

    I’ve asked for an update on the convention centre. Expecting more information later this week. I’m fairly sure there would be a hefty financial penalty for breaking the contract. I don’t know how much, but I would guess tens of millions. And reputational damage has financial consequences – higher prices on future projects! [via twitter]

  7. Dave Armstrong, 21. April 2020, 14:35

    Cheers Jenny. Your clear and incisive communication on council issues at the moment, including the possible rates rise, is most appreciated! [via twitter]

  8. James, 21. April 2020, 15:09

    Dear Jenny, Don’t necessarily agree with everything you have written, but I am really grateful you have taken the time to communicate your views.
    Now are there any Lambton ward councillors prepared to put their heads above the parapet?

  9. Hugh Rennie QC, 21. April 2020, 15:53

    This is the classic Council argument for rates increases. Councils list what they have to do by law (fair enough), what they are doing (a vast range of activities ranging from must do through nice to have to wildly extravagant). Then they price this. Then, aghast at the cost, they take a few things out. Usually things you can’t see like fixing the drains. Never the so-called “economic development” schemes like WREDA/Wellington NZ whose annual value is way below the $22million handed to it. Or subsidies to businesses like Singapore Airlines. They find the total still looks awful. So then they push up the business rates differential (as Wellington did last year) to try to hide the real increase from residents. End result – yet another rates rise, plus even higher “user fees”, plus Wellington businesses facing even more costs. They never start with what the ratepayers can afford, then consider how best to spend it on the core services needed.

  10. Northland, 21. April 2020, 17:59

    Jenny, I also applaud you for taking the time and effort to communicate your views. As stated elsewhere, it would be also nice to see some contributions from the other councillors and the mayor.

    I strongly disagree that the Council can just plough on with rates rises regardless. The economy is going to shrink and unemployment is going to rise significantly . The Council needs to show that it can tighten its belt. It should not simply borrow its way out of this mess as that would be transferring the burden onto ratepayers of the future. My suggestion would be to look very closely at the list of items provided by PCGM here. PCGM has stated the case quite clearly enough. I’m not sure how it could be made any plainer.

  11. TrevorH, 21. April 2020, 18:47

    I’m speechless. Any proposal to increase rates when thousands will face redundancy or bankruptcy is deeply immoral.

  12. Lance, 21. April 2020, 22:29

    I’m with TrevorH and Northland on this one – I continue to be gobsmacked that the council thinks anything other than a 0% raise is appropriate in this climate. While the rest of us grapple with income loss, they plow ahead and take more of what’s left of our reduced incomes claiming “contractual obligations” and other such nonsense. Absolutely immoral.

    As for breaking the contract – all contracts can be renegotiated, and the WCC is a big enough player that there will be no “reputational damage”. I would say the opposite is the case, and that Willis Bond will suffer significant reputational damage if it holds the WCC to a contract which is costing ratepayers $180m+.

  13. Don M, 22. April 2020, 10:35

    Full credit Jenny for engaging on the subject. But please excuse the cynicism of hard-pressed ratepayers who have heard it all before. Yes, the Chief Executive and her team will talk darkly about having to cut essential services if the budget is reduced. It’s a classic bureaucratic ploy known as Closing the Washington Monument – look it up. Meanwhile the gravy will continue to flow to the favoured non-essential activities. PCGM has identified some. There are many others. For example, when you add up various bits in the budget there is over $17.5million for cycling related activities (with other treats doubtless included under other items). Not bad pickings for one small group that has the ear of the Council. Could some of this be dropped or at least deferred with the money being returned to ratepayers. As you say, however, this is hard – it’s much easier just to increase the rates.

  14. april, 22. April 2020, 12:24

    I believe rates should be increased in these darker times AND all Councillors should take an 80% reduction in pay.

  15. Geoff Palmer, 23. April 2020, 7:40

    It’s worth repeating Hugh Rennie’s observation (above):

    [Councils] never start with what the ratepayers can afford, then consider how best to spend it on the core services needed.

    It’s time they did.

  16. TrevorH, 27. April 2020, 1:19

    The DomPost reports that Phil Twyford has said Councils must not cut their rates if they want government funding:
    “If you deliberately cut your revenue by scaling back rates increases, or going for zero rates, or cutting rates, how can I stand up with my colleagues and make the case that we should be investing alongside you. I can’t do that.” Sorry, but I’m speechless.