The Mayor told the Community Plan Committee 70 per cent of ratepayers surveyed by Council wanted the rates to be kept low as possible.
“As a result, Council has approved an average residential rate rise of around $1.15 a week per household for the 2012-2013 year.
“Council has achieved this by holding rates to the December CPI of 1.8 per cent for the average ratepayer with an allowance for a slight growth in rateable property.
“Changes to the allocation of rates were also approved and will be introduced over the next 10 years. This will ease the load on businesses to help encourage economic development.
“Council acknowledged the views of rural ratepayers and reduced the rural differential.
“Things are tight and we have taken a measured approach in finalising our annual plan. At every stage, we have asked the question: ‘can our ratepayers afford it?’
“We received several million dollars worth of requests for additional projects. Many of them were very worthy and ‘nice to have’ but in this tough, economic climate, we could not justify the ratepayers being asked to pay more.
“We intend to reduce our debt level to $45 million by 2015. This will include funding for the seismic strengthening of the city’s Civic Buildings in Laings Road,” he said.
The $12 million Taita Community Project has been given the go ahead with a revised council contribution of $6 million while the Fraser Park Sportsville development received additional funding of $1 million to progress this project.
Other safety projects to get the go ahead were the Wainuiomata Hill Summit bridge for walkers and cyclists, the Eastern Bays Walkway, and earthquake strengthening for key bridges in the city. These projects are to be subsidised by NZTA which will be confirming its funding allocations within the next few months.
“We have also approved a $1.2 million business stimulus package to attract new industry and businesses to Lower Hutt,” the Mayor said. “Council officers responded to a call to find the funding through savings and we have been able to put the package together without affecting rates.”
Work on the Civic Fountain in Riddiford Gardens has been held over for a year pending preparation of a Civic Gardens development plan.
“Councillors have worked hard and engaged with council officers to keep our costs tightly held to ensure every ratepayer dollar is spent wisely - they’ve all done a great job,” said Mayor Ray Wallace.