I will focus very hard on delivering better value for your money and reducing planned massive rates rises. Council is currently planning a 52% rise in rates over the next ten years. If you ignored predicted growth in the number of ratepayers it is 66% – that’s all planned and locked into Council’s approved Long Term Plan (LTP)!
It gets worse. Let’s Get Wellington Moving, on the basis of information provided to date adds approximately another 18%. It also excludes adequate provision for Civic Square and the Central library. All up we are staring at a rates increase of between 70 and 80 %!
That is unaffordable and cannot happen. That’s why last year after putting up a raft of savings proposals I voted against the Long Term Plan.
The Chief Executive said ‘The capital projects in front of us will need to be prioritised if we are to maintain our debt levels within our funding limits’, and ‘we have a significant financial challenge ahead of us as a city.’ prior to the election.
During Budget debates, I have always fought to reduce rates and to provide better value for the money spent. As Mayor there is a big advantage that I get to shape and introduce the budget.
Where can we save you money – while still delivering on the things that are most important?
- Not trying to do everything at once. Some big projects like the proposed Arena (estimated cost over $200 million) and runway extension have relatively low predicted benefits and should be deferred or dropped. Smaller capital projects need to be reviewed and some culled.
- Let’s Get Wellington Moving at $1.2 billion in today’s money and approximately $55 million in rates a year is unaffordable. It also won’t work as it is currently proposed. More on what we need to do later in my transport policies, but I’m focusing on making a difference NOW, early improvements to walking, biking and safety improvements in the Central City, bus priority, reconnecting the Airport Flyer to Real Time Information and Snapper, and on accelerating improvements to the Basin and Mt Vic tunnel, while having a good hard look at any mass transit route and technologies, their business case and it would interconnect with the bus system.
- We must look more at Council’s cost structure. I’m already working on reducing future leaky homes liabilities, insurance costs, risk reduction and managing capital projects so we reduce use of their contingency budgets. I am also digging into those internal costs – legal, feasibility studies, redundancy costs. We have to keep getting smarter. Collectively these things add up to tens of millions of dollars a year. I’m looking for real savings within that.
- More use of non-rates funding tools. I am pushing a review of Development Contributions Policy (DCs) so it is more realistic. For example not including expected purchases of Green Belt and Inner City Park land in the LTP means no DC contributions for any parts related to the growth of the city and the whole cost falls instead on ratepayers. Congestion charging is an option to help pay for LGWM rather than rates, as is levying long stay parking (incentivising conversion of long stay parks to needed short stay – retail friendly parks).
- I won’t bribe you with your own money. I’ve helped reverse the current mayor’s 2016 election policy to give away prime Golden Mile footpath and Waterfront land to restaurants and bars. Free use of the space didn’t increase the amount of space used, or add to city vibrancy. All it did was lose revenue of some $300,000, which benefited the businesses but went straight onto your and my rates.