Our city, our community, our future tells the story of Council’s work to promote growth, development and rejuvenation of Lower Hutt through investment, and outlines some of the projects that are planned for in the future. It also has several specific topics for community feedback.
The overall increase in the income Council receives from rates for 2018-19 is proposed to be 2.5%. This is made up of an average rates increase of 1.5% for existing ratepayers and the remaining 1% from growth.
An average residential property in Lower Hutt is currently $472,130. For now, the rates increase in 2018/19 for an average residential property is 3.28%. In dollar terms, this equates to approximately $76 per year, or $1.46 per week. This is an interim number and is expected to come down once the city’s growth for 2017/18 has been fully realised and rates are spread across a larger base. Residential rate increases will be slightly higher than business rate increases due to the differential adjustment to be more equitable to business.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace said that Council’s rejuvenation vision has been widely supported in the past and this latest plan is a continuation of that vision.
“In the past the community has been supportive of our plans to invest in the growth and rejuvenation of the city. There are many of these projects underway or completed across the city. Facilities like the Walter Nash Centre and the Koraunui Stokes Valley Hub have been very successful, and the soon to be completed Lower Hutt Events Centre and Fraser Park Sportsville projects will be significant assets for our community.”
Mayor Wallace also said that while rejuvenation and revitalisation of the city is a priority, so is keeping rates low for the community.
“We’re conscious of the need to keep rates at a reasonable level, while still delivering a rejuvenation programme across the city. We are sticking to our financial strategy that ensures that rates increases do not exceed local government inflation, after allowing for growth in our city. We’re proud to regularly have the lowest average rates rises in the Wellington region. Our robust financial management allows us to invest in our city for the benefit of both today’s ratepayers and future ratepayers, while keeping debt within responsible limits.”
Mayor Wallace encouraged the community to have their say.
“Our communities’ opinions certainly influence the decisions we make. We want to know if the community agrees with our proposals or would like us to do something else. I encourage everyone to get informed on this draft plan and give us feedback.”
Council’s proposals for discussion in the Long Term Plan 2018-28 include:
- Continuing Council’s rejuvenation strategy – this work includes sportsvilles in Petone and Wainuiomata and community hubs in Naenae and Wainuiomata. This is planned from 2018 to 2033 at a total cost of approximately $27 million.
- Suspending Council’s development charges and rates remissions policy – this policy incentivises certain types of development across the city by remitting consent fees and Development and Financial Contribution fees, as well as rates remissions for five years for developments in certain locations.
- Introducing a rates postponement scheme for residential ratepayers aged 65 and over – this scheme would provide ratepayers aged 65 years and over, the choice to postpone the payment of rates on their principal freehold (or almost freehold) residential property, subject to qualifying conditions and criteria. There would be no impact on rates.
- Introducing rates remissions for community, sporting and other organisations – this would provide a 100% remission of the general rate levied on community, sporting and recreational organisations. This would increase the total cost of rates remissions by $154,000, and if rates funded, this would cost an average residential ratepayer and additional $2.86 per annum or if debt funded, an additional $0.08 per year.
Council is also asking for feedback on some minor changes to other strategies and policies as part of this consultation. These are:
- 2018-19 User charges
- Revenue and Financing Policy
- Development Contributions Policy
- Draft 2028-2048 Infrastructure Strategy
There are several ways for people to get involved and have their say. The easiest way is to read the consultation document online at www.huttcity.govt.nz/longtermplan and to provide feedback through the online feedback form. Alternatively, people can pick up a copy of the document from their local libraries and community hubs, attend a local meeting in their area, or get in touch with their local councillors to find out more.
The community has until Thursday 3 May 2018 to have a say. People who make a submission are also welcome to present to the Mayor and Councillors at hearings in May. After hearing and reviewing all feedback Council will meet in early June to make final decisions.