Council actions unacceptable
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.