Continuing to provide vital services for the city is the focus of Porirua City Council’s draft Annual Plan, which was approved for consultation this morning.
The consultation document has three rate increase options on the table, with 9.71 per cent the recommended way forward to address increasing costs and shortfalls in funding for crucial water services.
The Council has worked to reduce some of the burden on ratepayers, while maintaining existing levels of service by funding the water infrastructure shortfall half by rates and half by debt. Council believe that this option allows them to keep rates as low as they can while not moving the total burden forward onto ratepayers in the next Long-term Plan.
In Council’s Long-term Plan 2021-51, the forecast for the 2023-24 financial year was a rate increase of 7.65 per cent. However, increases in inflation, insurance, debt repayment, depreciation and water costs, means it now costs more to deliver our core services.
Porirua Mayor Anita Baker says the reality is Council can no longer provide the same services for the same costs as before.
"Our infrastructure remains a priority that can’t be ignored, and we remain committed to protecting our harbour and responding to the climate crisis by continuing to invest in robust water services. So we need to find the right balance."
Wellington Water has told Council it needs an extra $3.6million funding (an extra 4.1 per cent in rates) to deliver its current level of service. Without this funding the number of outstanding leaks around the city will increase, with some minor leaks predicted to take up to a year to fix.
To address this, Council looked at three options for rates increases for the year ahead, with a 9.71 per cent increase the preferred option, and is seeking feedback from the community to help decide the best way forward.
The three options are:
- Keep the rates increase at an average of 7.65 per cent, by not providing the extra funding needed by Wellington Water and raising fees and charges by small amounts. This would mean a drop in service levels from Wellington Water.
- Increase rates by an average of 9.71 per cent, covering the extra funding to Wellington Water half by rates and half through debt funding, and raise fees and charges 3 to 8 per cent. (Council’s proposal)
- Increase rates by 11.8 per cent, which has the Wellington Water shortfall entirely funded by rates, and raise fees and charges by 3 to 8 per cent
"We know that rate increases have an impact as people are struggling with day-to-day living costs - our challenge is to find the right balance," Mayor Baker says.
Despite rising costs, Council is working to keep overheads as low as possible.
"We’ve made savings and efficiencies to the tune of more than $2 million. We also introduced paid parking to move costs to users of the parks, rather than being funded by all ratepayers.
"But we still need to keep Porirua moving forward and we are committed to making responsible decisions around climate change and our harbour - giving businesses opportunities, boosting the local economy, improving the services and facilities we do have," she says.
To do this, Council’s position is that the middle option - increasing rates by 9.71 per cent - is the best balance.
"We know there will be a variety of views in the community and people will have different priorities - some of you want us to do more and do things faster, and others would prefer we constrain our services and minimise the impacts on rates.
"It’s a time to make challenging decisions and your feedback will help us do that - so please make a submission and tell us what you think."
Consultation on the Annual Plan runs from 12 April until 12 May 2023.
You can make a submission online at www.poriruacity.govt.nz/annual-plan from 12 April. Alternatively, printed copies of the consultation document and submission form are available from the Council’s front counter and all Porirua City libraries.
There’s also information on the website about drop-in sessions with Council officers, or you can contact the Annual Plan team to request a meeting by emailing [email protected]
Hearings on the submissions will be held in May, and the Council will discuss all the feedback in June. The final rate increase will be agreed on 29 June 2023 when the Annual Plan is adopted.
6 Apr 2023