“Many people can’t afford more rates;” but Wellington increases rates by 2.5%

Press Release – Wellington City Council
The Wellington City Council today approved the 2013/14 Annual Plan, featuring an average rates rise of 2.5 percent.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said today she was pleased the Council could deliver a good deal for the city’s ratepayers with a lower final rates increase.

“We will have headroom to make a difference for Wellington’s economy while recognising many people can’t afford more rates,” said Mayor Wade-Brown.

The Mayor said a new feature of this year’s plan was investment in a range of smart energy initiatives. A $250,000 funding programme has been established, based on the Council receiving at least dollar-for-dollar funding from sources other than rates.

Projects must result in benefits such as reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, implementation of distributed generation by homes and businesses, and bring benefits such as health or economic development.

“The Smart Energy Capital initiative received strong support from businesses and residents,” said the Mayor. “This initiative is about seizing the economic opportunities of responding to current financial and environmental challenges.”

Key projects agreed by the Council include:

• Cycling network – $250,000 operating expenditure to consult interested and affected communities, explore possible improvement options and develop a programme of works that delivers a ‘cycling brand’ to Wellington, and $250,000 capital expenditure for construction design work for agreed enhancements to cycleways. This is in addition to funding already budgeted in the Council’s Long Term Plan.

• Orchestra Wellington – an increased grant in 2013/14 and 2014/15 ($112,000 per annum increase to existing grant, from the Cultural Grants pool).

• Lombard Lane – $150,000 to work with the developer of the site bordered by Manners, Victoria and Bond streets to enhance the public spaces of Lombard Lane and Denton Park. Funding would cover design, feasibility, costing and legal work.

• Built Heritage Incentive Fund – increased for 2013/14 from $329,000 to $400,000.

• Earthquake strengthening programme – a revised programme of work including a cost increase for Town Hall strengthening – but staying within the overall budget set in the Long-term Plan.

• Living Wage – funded to a maximum of $250,000

The bulk of spending is on the essentials of our city, such as and $19 million for libraries, $8 million a year on local parks and open spaces and $38 million for water. Council staff found $14.1 million in savings as part of the Annual Plan process.

“The new projects contained within this plan specifically target opportunities that build on our strengths as a city and propel the Capital’s economy forward,” said Mayor Wade-Brown.

“The Capital Education Initiative will bring the nation’s students to their capital city, we’re planning for a revitalised Civic Square, and we’ll develop Taranaki Street as part of a processional route from the new Memorial Park to Parliament.”

At today’s full Council meeting, the Mayor presented an amendment that kept the rates rise to only 2.5 percent, down from the 2.8 percent increase projected last week.

The Mayor’s amendment called for a more modest increase in Wellington City’s contribution to the Regional Amenities Fund from 2012/13, to $609,200.

“This recommendation was made in consultation with other Mayors in the region who have signed up for the Regional Amenities Fund. An important consideration is that the fund is not yet committed to any specific organisations in 2013/14.

“We remain committed to the Regional Amenities Fund as an example of collaboration across willing councils in the wider Wellington region,” she said.

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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