Coun­cil ac­tions un­ac­cept­able

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

So a rates in­crease dou­ble the rate of in­fla­tion is the best our mayor, coun­cil­lors, coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive, the coun­cil se­nior man­age­ment team and Porirua Eco­nomic Group can achieve.

But rates have been kept down to this level only by ex­tend­ing the life of as­sets, de­fer­ring main­te­nance and al­low­ing core as­sets like roads, stormwa­ter, etc to de­te­ri­o­rate fur­ther.

There are four key rea­sons our rates are so high:

1. There are too many man­agers and se­nior man­agers at the coun­cil, with soft goals and tar­gets.

That makes it a great place to work, which is why man­age­ment turnover, apart from ill-health or re­tire­ment, is so low.

Who in their right mind would leave?

2. The aver­age age of as­sets, ex­pen­di­ture on pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance, and re­newals (like re-sur­fac­ing roads), has been cut and cut and cut.

Much of the in­fra­struc­ture only continues to func­tion thanks to the ini­tia­tive of staff (not man­age­ment).

3. The coun­cil is tak­ing res­i­dents on a spec­u­la­tive ad­ven­ture, with its multi-mil­lion dol­lar CBD re-de­vel­op­ment.

The cost to-date of land and build­ing pur­chases, the ero­sion of rentals, and loss of rates in­come is stag­ger­ing, as well as the fall in value of these pur­chases and on­go­ing fund­ing costs.

While the coun­cil claims it is not bor­row­ing for the re­de­vel­op­ment, that’s pre­sum­ably be­cause banks and property in­vestors aren’t re­motely in­ter­ested, other than on very un­favourable terms for ratepay­ers.

So in­stead, rates fund the CBD re­de­vel­op­ment, and the coun­cil has to bor­row to fund min­i­mal main­te­nance of core in­fra­struc­ture and pay staff.

4. Property de­vel­op­ers are not fully fund­ing new hous­ing es­tates. For ex­am­ple, if the de­vel­op­ment north of Plim­mer­ton goes ahead, this will trig­ger a need to up­grade the sew­er­age sys­tem and wa­ter stor­age, and build new road­ing links.

The de­vel­op­ers should meet all these costs, as they do over­seas and in some other parts of New Zealand, rather than Porirua res­i­dents, in­clud­ing those rent­ing.

The growth of the city’s hous­ing has been the most fre­quently used ex­cuse for rates in­creas­ing faster than in­fla­tion nearly ev­ery year for 30 years. When does it stop? Ei­ther ratepay­ers say no growth, or de­vel­op­ers should pay for more of the in­fra­struc­ture.

We are in a spi­ral, and it’s not a good one.

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