Council voted to adopt the Living Wage from 1 July 2018, meaning all Council staff will shift to a minimum wage of $20.55 per hour. Councillors also asked the Chief Executive to continue to work on options for companies that provide contractors to Council to adopt the Living Wage for their staff.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says Council had thought long and hard before making the decision, given the financial implications.
“In the end we knew it was the right thing to do. This Council has a focus on giving help where it is most needed, and that should include making life a little easier for the lowest paid members of our team.”
Council received close to 200 written submissions on its proposed Long Term Plan during the consultation period, with 94 submitters also speaking at two days of public hearings. Council will meet again on 28 June to adopt the plan and set rates.
Mayor Wallace says given the number of compelling cases that were made, Councillors had a hard job making the budget work and some tough decisions had to be made.
“We’re committed to keeping rates increases low, but we also need to make sure we maintain the momentum of investing in things that will make Lower Hutt an outstanding city. I’m confident this plan strikes the right balance.”
Council has voted for a rates revenue increase of 1.5% for existing ratepayers, with a further 1% rates revenue increase expected from growth from new builds and property investment.
The plan continues investment in key strategies for infrastructure, urban growth, leisure and well-being and environmental sustainability. It continues the theme of rejuvenation and will see the building of community hubs in Naenae and Wainuiomata, similar to those already built in Taita and Stokes Valley. There is also a continued commitment to the Riverlink Project, which will see the CBD re-positioned to face Te Awakairangi/the Hutt River and the creation of a river-front promenade featuring cafes, shops and apartments.
The plan includes changes to three rating policies - the Hutt City Development Contribution and Rates Remission Policy, which has been successful in stimulating development activity in the city, will finish at the end of 2018; eligible sports and community groups have had their general rates reduced by 50%; and from 1 July the over 65s will have an option to postpone the payment of their rates.
To remain within Council’s financial strategy some hard decisions were made regarding many items that were not included in the plan. The most significant of these was for the proposed Petone Sportsville on Petone Recreation Ground which was not supported.
The plan includes:
- An additional $3.6m to be spent over the next ten years to improve reserves and playgrounds including new improvements for Naenae Park, Naenae community hub (landscaping), Avalon Park (toilets) and for general park and playground maintenance, with $2m of this to be spent in 2019/20
- $105,000 in 2018/19 for the development of a strategy to tackle homelessness in Lower Hutt
- $200,000 to work with other councils in the region to map and identify places, communities and assets threatened by sea level rise, to develop response options and to begin engagement with Lower Hutt communities on the threat of climate change
- $104,200 in 2018/19 to upgrade the city’s existing 150 parking metres to ‘pay by plate’ technology, which will eliminate the current paper ticketing. This upfront cost will be offset by savings of $30,600 per annum.
- Bringing forward $2m of existing budget for a facility for Hutt Valley GymSports at Fraser Park from 2023/24 to 2019/20
- An additional $8m for refurbishment of Petone Wharf in 2033/34. Council is working with consultants on solutions that would see the existing Petone Wharf have another 15 years of life. A full report on this is expected to go to Council later this year.