3.74% Rates Increase for Wellington

30 June 2011

Wellington City Council last night approved its annual plan for the 2011/12 financial year.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the plan navigates tough times, invests in the future, strengthens Wellington's infrastructure and delivers affordable rates.

It will result in an average 3.74 percent rates rise. On average, residential rates will increase 4.3 percent while the impact on the city's commercial sector will be 1.1 per cent.

The Council agreed last night to a late item put forward by Councillor Jo Coughlan, committing $150,000 to undertake an initial concept design and user analysis for a new deep-water pool at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre. The information would feed into the
2012 - 22 long-term plan deliberations that start next year.

It also agreed to spend:

  • $850,000 resurfacing the number two artificial turf at the National Hockey Stadium in the coming year
  • an extra $250,000 for cycling and walking paths - conditional on NZTA agreeing to match the funding
  • $145,000 to upgrade Newlands Town Centre
  • $45,000 to extend support of the New Zealand Academy of Sport.

The Council confirmed a recommendation at last week's Strategy and Policy Committee to abandon a proposal to increase parking fees and extend paid parking in the central business district to weeknight evenings. It also agreed to keep the Central Library open till 8.30pm on weeknights - rejecting a proposal to close at 7.00pm to save money. The Council did, however, agree to close the library earlier on Friday nights - at 8.30pm instead of 9.00pm.

Mayor Wade-Brown says the Council has managed to keep rates low in the face of significant budget pressures, including:

  • the Council's leaky homes liability
  • rising insurance costs
  • significant inflation of costs of materials, including oil-based products and fuel
  • interest and depreciation costs on Council assets.

"While these are difficult economic times, it is important that we continue to invest in our city so it remains a great place to live, learn, work and play - and we've done that," she says.

"We've had to make some choices - with changes to some services and modest increases in fees for others.

"This year's plan was always going to be a balance between service delivery and continuing to invest in core infrastructure. Overall we've managed to maintain the services and experiences that a modern capital should offer while continuing to invest in core infrastructure, especially in areas that will make our city more earthquake-resilient.

"The reality is we are facing significant cost pressures, from increases to petroleum-based products such as bitumen and from our leaky buildings liability. These costs are unavoidable and have to be met.

"A key focus in the coming year will be investing in critical infrastructure. We will spend $22 million on upgrading the city's water, stormwater and wastewater network, including building new quake-resilient reservoirs in Karori and Mount Cook. It's important we improve the resilience of our network so we are better prepared to cope with and recover from a significant earthquake.

"I'd like to thank all of the 789 Wellingtonians who made written or oral submissions. Without doubt the feedback we received influenced our decisions."

The income the Council receives from general rates and user charges pays for day-to-day operations and services and maintaining the Council's $6 billion worth of assets.

In the coming year the Council will spend $134 million providing everyday services like:

  • waste management and recycling
  • libraries
  • swimming pools
  • sportsfields
  • recreation and community centres
  • caring for the Town Belt and outdoor areas.