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Plan locked in and rates set


Porirua City Council has locked in its plan for the next decade and set the rates for the coming year.

At a meeting of the full Council today, the Long-term Plan 2024-34 (LTP) was formally adopted, following deliberations and decisions at a meeting of the Te Puna Kōrero Committee on 6 June.

The LTP sets the city’s budget and direction for the next ten years, and has a clear focus on infrastructure and essential services.

Rates were set for the 2024/25 financial year, with the average increase for existing ratepayers being 17.5 per cent. The exact rates for each property will be loaded to our property search page on 30 July, and ratepayers will receive their rates notices via email or letter from 31 July.

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker said this had been a very challenging LTP, given the issues and uncertainty facing councils across New Zealand, including delays to water reform, steeply increasing costs for all projects, and failing infrastructure due to historical under-investment.

“Nobody wants to see rates increases at these levels, but we can’t ignore our infrastructure. For decades there hasn’t been enough spent on pipes and the harbour is paying the price for that now. We have to invest if we want to look after our city and keep it as a place we can all be proud of.

She said systemic change was needed to relieve the burden on ratepayers.

“We’re making a record investment in water in this LTP, and it still won’t be enough. Things need to change.”

Mayor Baker said the council had pulled every lever available to minimise rates increases while maintaining levels of service and delivering essential infrastructure renewals, reducing costs by $155m.

“We had to make some difficult decisions, including deferring, stopping or reprioritising a number of projects.”

The LTP has four focus areas, being three waters, affordability, getting the balance sheet right, and climate resilience and sustainability. Of the city’s overall budget, 55 per cent will be invested in three waters infrastructure.

Council consulted on the LTP for a month, from late March to late April, and received 517 submissions, an increase of around 50 per cent on the previous LTP.

On the key proposal consulted on in the LTP, the committee agreed to introduce a new rates-funded kerbside rubbish and recycling collection service from 2027/28. Officers will consult with the community on the details of the service before the any changes are made.

Mayor Baker said getting the LTP across the line was the result of hard work by council officers and tough decisions by elected members.

“This hasn’t been an easy one, as we try to find the right balance to keep our city running during challenging financial times.”

She was pleased to see the increase in community feedback.

For the first time, Council introduced the option of making submissions by video, and almost 200 of these were received – 90 per cent of which came from Pacific people.

“We want to hear the voices of everyone in our city, which is why we included this new option as well as traditional written submissions. We hope this will continue to grow and we’ll see even more people taking part in the democratic process.”

One of the themes that came through strongly in the video submissions was a desire for council to provide funding to Te Kiwa Nui Charitable Trust to help run the Te Kiwa Nui Polyfest event, which has been held in Porirua for 45 years.

Mayor Baker said the Council listened to each one of those requests and was happy to be able to lock in support for the next three years, to the value of $50,000 each year.

“This is a really special event, not just for our young people and their families, but also for the city as a whole,” she said.

The LTP also includes grants for Wellington Free Ambulance, Surf Life Saving New Zealand, Mana Volunteer Coastguard, Wellington Life Flight Trust and Citizen’s Advice Bureau. All grants will come from existing budgets and will not impact proposed rating levels.

“All the things that we’ve agreed to fund are part of what makes a city what it is,” Mayor Baker said. “It’s important to look after our young people, and our elderly, and these grants help do that.”

27 Jun 2024