Tough bud­get pro­posed

Aus­ter­ity mea­sures ‘needed’


Men­ac­ing men be­ware – you wouldn’t want to meet Rangikura School pupil Ju­lia Sakaria in a dark al­ley.

Af­ter two days in a self­de­fence course, the 10-year-old would show an at­tacker no mercy, she said en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. ‘‘I’d kill them!’’ Her self-de­fence class buddy Napa Tal­i­ulu, 11, took a more mod­er­ate ap­proach. ‘‘We don’t want to kill them, but we’re go­ing to show them that girls are not weak,’’ she said.

Loud cries of ‘‘No, no, no!’’ boomed out from Rangikura School hall last week, as its in­ter­me­di­ate girls learned the ba­sics of self-de­fence.

The Aotea school’s 40 Year 7 and 8 girls have learned to punch, kick, block at­tacks and shout for help should they find them­selves in a vi­o­lent sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘We’re giv­ing them in­for­ma­tion about pro­tect­ing them­selves us­ing their bod­ies and their voices, and get­ting out of sit­u­a­tions be­fore they es­ca­late into higher lev­els of vi­o­lence,’’ said Women’s Self De­fence Net­work teacher Jan Beth.

The pro­gramme is funded by the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and has been run­ning for 16 years across the coun­try. Plim­mer­ton li­brary will close, com­mu­nity halls and re­serve land could be sold and foot­paths and roads left to de­grade in a dras­tic aus­ter­ity bud­get be­ing pro­posed by Porirua City Coun­cil.

Civic spend­ing for the next 10 years has been mapped out in the coun­cil’s Draft Long Term Plan, which will be open for public con­sul­ta­tion from April 3 to May 3.

Un­der the plan li­brary hours and staff will be slashed over five years, and Plim­mer­ton li­brary will close im­me­di­ately.

Re­serve land is be­ing re­viewed for pos­si­ble sale to fund in­vest­ment in re­cre­ation like ar­ti­fi­cial turfs, and the coun­cil is con­sid­er­ing sell­ing its least-used fa­cil­i­ties, such as com­mu­nity halls.

Foot­paths and roads are an­other vic­tim of tight coun­cil bud­get­ing – main­te­nance will be put on hold for sev­eral years, which the coun­cil ad­mits may in­crease the cost of re­pairs in the long run as roads and paths de­te­ri­o­rate.

‘‘This is a tough bud­get, and it needed to be,’’ mayor Nick Leggett says in his in­tro­duc­tion to the draft doc­u­ment.

‘‘With­out hard de­ci­sions, the com­mu­nity could have faced an ex­tremely high rates in­crease.’’

Seventy per cent of coun­cil in­come comes from rates, much higher than the 58 per cent na­tional av­er­age.

‘‘Ad­di­tion­ally, as a young city Porirua does not have high-in­come as­sets, land or util­i­ties like other coun­cils.

‘‘This high de­pen­dency on rates means that coun­cil has very few op­tions avail­able to ab­sorb cost in­creases; it ei­ther has to in­crease rates or lower the lev­els of ser­vice,’’ the Draft Long Term Plan doc­u­ment states.

A rates rise of 3.2 per cent a year on av­er­age is be­ing pro­posed by the coun­cil.

Mr Leggett urges res­i­dents to make sub­mis­sions on the plan. ‘‘Are we on the right track? Have we struck the right bal­ance be­tween af­ford­abil­ity to­day and in­vest­ment for to­mor­row?’’

Cuts to spend­ing char­ac­terise most of the changes planned for the next decade.

Com­mu­nity grants will be re­duced from $245,000 to $195,000 over five years.

All 250 rub­bish bins in parks and re­serves will be re­moved ex­cept five in key ar­eas, and 25 street rub­bish bins will dis­ap­pear.

Four toi­let blocks will close.

Graf­fiti preven­tion and re­moval, main­te­nance of the canopies and clean­ing of Can­nons Creek and Ti­tahi Bay shop­ping ar­eas will all be re­duced. Pataka mu­seum also faces cuts. ‘‘Over 10 years Pataka will lose four staff, re­quir­ing a re­duc­tion in open­ing hours and the range and qual­ity of ex­hi­bi­tions,’’ the coun­cil doc­u­ment states.

User-pays fees in­creases are a key coun­cil strat­egy to keep rates down.

Spicer Land­fill fees are to jump 19 per cent this year. Paid park­ing will ex­pand in the CBD, and it will cost more for res­i­dents to use sports fields and out­door courts.

Com­bin­ing emer­gency man­age­ment and rub­bish col­lec­tion with other re­gional coun­cils is hoped to save money, but Porirua res­i­dents could end up fund­ing at­trac­tions out­side the city like Welling­ton Zoo with the es­tab­lish­ment of a Re­gional Ameni­ties Fund.

Some spend­ing will in­crease un­der the pro­posed Long Term Plan – stormwa­ter up­grades have dou­ble the fund­ing that was in the last Long Term Plan, at $4 mil­lion over 10 years. The Shared Re­spon­si­bil­ity Scheme fund­ing will dou­ble to $150,000 a year.

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