Rates up by 3.6pc as an­nual plan signed off

The Dominion Post - - News - MICHAEL FORBES

Rates bills across Welling­ton will in­crease by an aver­age of 3.6 per cent, af­ter the city coun­cil set its budget in stone for the next fi­nan­cial year.

Coun­cil­lors signed off on the city’s 2016-17 An­nual Plan yes­ter­day, strik­ing a rates in­crease of 5.4 per cent for res­i­den­tial ratepay­ers and 2.7 per cent for com­mer­cial – equat­ing to an aver­age hike of 3.6 per cent across the city.

Coun­cil­lors also ap­proved the next stage of a plan that will come up with so­lu­tions to ‘‘fu­ture shocks’’ such as quakes, cli­mate change, eco­nomic down­turns and hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity get­ting out of con­trol.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown de­scribed the af­ter-growth rates in­crease as ‘‘a mod­est and man­age­able amount’’ that rep­re­sented great value for all Welling­to­ni­ans.

In sign­ing off the An­nual Plan, coun­cil­lors ap­proved fund­ing of $134 mil­lion for a new three-storey build­ing be­tween Cable and Wake­field streets.

The top two floors will be­come a con­ven­tion cen­tre while the bot­tom floor will be leased to Sir Peter Jack­son and Sir Richard Tay­lor for their pro­posed movie mu­seum. De­tailed plans will now be drawn up, which coun­cil­lors will need to ap­prove, be­fore con­struc­tion can be­gin early next year.

Coun­cil­lors also gave their bless­ing to draw­ing up plans for an ur­ban de­vel­op­ment agency, and ac­tion­ing a plan to cut the city’s emis­sions by 80 per cent by 2050.

The ur­ban de­vel­op­ment agency will be charged with man­ag­ing land de­vel­op­ment across the city by pack­ag­ing land ac­qui­si­tions. Welling­ton has de­cided what the fu­ture threats to its pros­per­ity are, now comes the time for an­swers.

Coun­cil­lors en­dorsed a re­port yes­ter­day that iden­ti­fied four ma­jor ‘‘shocks’’ the city needed to plan for. They in­cluded a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake, the ris­ing fre­quency of storms and sea lev­els, a mas­sive eco­nomic down­turn, and an Auck­land-style hous­ing cri­sis.

Coun­cil staff will now in­ves­ti­gate po­ten­tial safe­guards against these prob­lems and re­port back in Septem­ber.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the issues iden­ti­fied in the re­port were all fairly size­able.

But not all of the so­lu­tions would be big-spend­ing ini­tia­tives. The coun­cil’s work from here would also con­sider ways to in­vest in the city’s ‘‘so­cial cap­i­tal’’ by get­ting res­i­dents to do sim­ple things like know­ing their neigh­bours bet­ter.

Coun­cil­lor Andy Foster made the point that Welling­ton was al­ready ‘‘miles ahead’’ with its build­ings as­sess­ment process, and was ac­tively work­ing with the mar­ket to get un­der-strength build­ings up to earth­quake code.

The ‘‘low-car­bon cap­i­tal plan’’ con­tains ini­tia­tives de­signed to get the city’s emis­sions down, such as sup­port­ing car-shar­ing schemes and elec­tric ve­hi­cle in­fra­struc­ture.

Coun­cil­lors found funds to hire 16 more park­ing war­dens, make swim­ming pool en­try free for chil­dren un­der 5, help fund the next stage of Toitu Poneke Sports Hub in Kil­birnie, and give the New­town Fes­ti­val fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

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