Rates up by 3.6pc as annual plan signed off
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.