Hefty rates rise under scrutiny
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.