Consultation is required because Hutt City Council is proposing to amend its Long Term Plan to accommodate a new pool in Naenae, to establish a new rubbish and recycling system, and to take steps to strike a balance between the proportion of rates paid by homeowners compared to businesses. As well as this, Council will be consulting the community on a 7.9% rates revenue increase.
Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry says Council is required to make some tough decisions in the face of significant financial challenges, and is focused on getting back to basics and delivering the services and infrastructure that supports local communities to thrive.
“As Mayor I’m committed to having an upfront and honest conversation with the community about the challenges we face, and what it will require to tackle those,” Campbell Barry said. “It’s about being brave and setting a realistic course for Council for the future.
“Today we heard about the need to do things differently and to take action to make our financial position more sustainable. That’s why we’re proposing a rates increase which tackles our deficit, begins to balance the budget and enables investment in a new Naenae pool, vital water infrastructure and a modern kerbside rubbish and recycling system,” Campbell Barry said. “I’m very proud to lead a council that’s willing to front up to these issues.
“Soon we will be asking for feedback from our communities as part of the Annual Plan consultation process, and I would encourage everyone to make their voice heard.”
Council’s Chief Executive Jo Miller outlined the need to strengthen Council’s financial position, to make the most of cheap interest rates by borrowing to fund long term assets like Naenae pool which will benefit generations to come and to realign Council’s financial strategy with Council priorities.
“We cannot have amongst the lowest rates in the country and the lowest rates rises, very low borrowing levels and provide the best services for our community. We’ve taken a long hard look at the finances and need to do more to achieve a balanced budget in the next few years,” says Jo Miller.
“The rates increase means ratepayers could pay on average between $1.12 and $6.47 more per week with an average increase of $3.98 per week depending on the recent property revaluation changes.
"I’m very conscious that asking people to pay more rates is not ideal however we have heard today that we need to take a hard look at the finances if we want to do everything that is expected of us. We’ll also take a look at the way we set rates in the next Long Term Plan to ensure a more equitable approach.
“To achieve what we need to do in the coming year we are proposing an overall rates increase for 2020/21 of 7.9%. The increase means work to get the demolition of Naenae pool can start this year and we can put money into the wastewater network, seismic strengthening of the Seaview wastewater treatment plant and other work on reservoirs, the Petone Collector Main and Outfall pipeline overflow.
The decisions made today will now form part of the formal consultation on the Annual Plan which gets underway in April.
The following budget changes were approved ahead of consultation progressing:
Increased funding for Three Waters
- Capital asset renewals $2M
- To fix water supply leaks in the network $200k
- Planning for three waters infrastructure to service population growth $50k
- For consenting works related to major intakes and retention dams $50k
- Critical asset condition assessment $200k
Offset by savings and reductions in budgets as follows
- Targeted operational savings of $1M
- International Co-operating Cities from $45k down to $5k, $40k savings.
- Regional Amenities Fund $200k funding removed
- Suburban Shopping Centre Fund reduced by $50k per annum
- Biodiversity Assistance for Landowners reduced from $265k down to $200k, $65k saving.
- Community Funding reduction of $100k