Employers say rates increase is too high, they tell the city council to spend less

Press Release – Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
Wellington City Council must reduce the growth in both its expenditure and its rates take, Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce told councillors today in its submission on the council’s 2013-14 Draft Annual Plan.

The Chamber said there should be at least a zero rate rise, or even a reduction. It said it was pleased the council had found some efficiencies and savings, but overall spending was still too high and a “significant overhaul” was needed.

“The current spending proposals … leave an average rate rise of 2.8% and a target of 2.3% once further savings are identified. This is a lower percentage increase than recent years but it is still high.

“Firstly, the increase is actually quite high in real, inflation-adjusted terms (the latest CPI increase to March 2013 was 0.9%).

“More importantly, though, with continued uncertainty about future liabilities relating to earthquake strengthening of council buildings and leaky homes, and as the councils in the region approach amalgamation, it is important that all non-essential expenditure within the council’s operations is eliminated,” the submission said.

Chamber Chief Executive Raewyn Bleakley said it was in everyone’s best interests that there was a serious overhaul of spending.

“Times are still tight for everyone, and council must continue to be extremely mindful of that. And when you look at the list of uncertain future liabilities facing this council, then spending curbs are imperative.

“Hand-in-hand with an overhaul of spending is transparency. It’s vital that the council is transparent in everything it does, but especially when it comes top spending ratepayers’ money.

“Transparency will also enable ratepayers to assess whether the allocation and level of council expenditure is appropriate.

“Businesses contribute around 45% of the rate take and need to have more say in how the money is spent,” Ms Bleakley concluded.


Click here to read the submission

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