Hefty rates rise un­der scru­tiny

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Porirua City Coun­cil is do­ing its best to sweeten the pain of a hefty rates rise this year.

A $ 500,000 splash pad, mil­lions of dol­lars pumped into the city cen­tre and the pos­si­bil­ity of con­tribut­ing $1 mil­lion to a per­form­ing arts cen­tre that Aotea Col­lege in­tends build­ing are pro­posed over the next 10 years. That sort of out­lay, es­pe­cially on the splash pad – prob­a­bly at Aotea La­goon – will ap­pease those who say the coun­cil never spends money on ‘‘nice to have’’ items.

A lot of the spend­ing on those projects will come in two to three years’ time. How­ever, Porirua res­i­dents are fac­ing an av­er­age rates rise of 4.8 per cent in the com­ing months.

That’s about $124 more per year on a $380,000 house, quite a chunk for fam­i­lies op­er­at­ing on ex­tremely tight bud­gets.

The coun­cil will say most of its more im­me­di­ate in­come is ear­marked for in­fra­struc­ture we can’t see, like pipes, and for the city cen­tre up­grade, which is vi­tal if the city is to move for­ward.

That’s fair enough, but some coun­cil spend­ing is be­ing ques­tioned, no­tably the $ 570,000 to buy the earth­quake-prone New Zealand Post build­ing, more than $150,000 that was sunk into Gi­ga­town last year, and the on­go­ing money hole that is the Marines Hall in Ti­tahi Bay.

One let­ter to the edi­tor this week, from Hutt City coun­cil­lor Max Shier­law, takes a pop at Porirua mayor Nick Leggett’s as­ser­tion that the lack of rate­able prop­er­ties means steep­ish rates rises are in­evitable.

Shier­law says his coun­cil’s ra­tio of rate­able prop­er­ties to to­tal in­come is sim­i­lar to Porirua’s, yet the Hutt has ‘‘ex­cel­lent ur­ban growth strat­egy and high-qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture’’.

He blames Porirua’s un­nec­es­sary spend­ing and poor de­ci­sion mak­ing for the fact some Aotea res­i­dents are fac­ing up to 15 per cent rates rises.

Porirua City Coun­cil needs to work harder to con­vince res­i­dents that rates rises well above the rate of in­fla­tion are nec­es­sary to keep the city on the right path.

Splash pads make good PR, but not to those who need to spend more of their in­come just to live in Porirua. Can­nons Creek has a res­i­dents and ratepay­ers as­so­ci­a­tion, but in name only.

The sub­urb’s for­mer com­mu­nity po­lice­man, Aporo Joyce, re­vived the or­gan­i­sa­tion in 2010, but he stepped aside last year. Since then, the as­so­ci­a­tion has not ad­ver­tised meet­ings well, has strug­gled for com­mit­tee mem­bers and has been riven by per­son­al­ity clashes and in-fight­ing.

How­ever, with­out or­gan­ised as­so­ci­a­tions, work well in sub­urbs like Ranui, Plim­mer­ton and Pukerua Bay, Can­nons Creek, Wai­tan­girua and As­cot Park will still get on fine.

When an is­sue arises in the Creek, peo­ple band to­gether, make their feel­ings known to their ward coun­cil­lors or other rel­e­vant com­mu­nity lead­ers, and Porirua City Coun­cil duly be­comes aware that a play­ground needs re­pair­ing, flood­ing is out of con­trol or a street is haz­ardous.

Peo­ple in the east will sign pe­ti­tions and speak at coun­cil meet­ings. What needs to get done, gets done.

It’s time for a few in­di­vid­u­als aban­don the ten­drils of hope that the Can­nons Creek Res­i­dents and Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion will meet again one day.

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