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.