Regional council wants to hike rates by 5.6 per cent, blaming quake and Government funding

Greater Wellington Regional Council will not be getting a dividend from quake-damaged CentrePort this year, partly ...
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Greater Wellington Regional Council will not be getting a dividend from quake-damaged CentrePort this year, partly contributing to the need for a 5.6 rates increase across the region.

Ratepayers are facing a 5.6 per cent average hike as the Greater Wellington Regional Council grapples with a drop in Government funding and the economic impact of last year's Kaikoura earthquake.

The rates increase was proposed in the council's consultation document for the 2017-18 Annual Plan, which was approved by councillors on Thursday.

It would see rates increase by $28 for the average residential household, should the proposal stand.

Part of the rates rise has been earmarked to help pay off debt for projects such as the new Matangi train fleet.
MICHAEL KILGOUR/GWRC

Part of the rates rise has been earmarked to help pay off debt for projects such as the new Matangi train fleet.

However, there was some good news, with no changes proposed to public transport fares for 2017-18, though a "comprehensive package" of improvements and initiatives has been signalled for next year.

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The rates rise has been earmarked to help pay off debt incurred for major projects such as the Hutt Valley flood protection programme and the multimillion-dollar Matangi train fleet.

The consultation document revealed the council does not expect to receive its $4 million annual dividend from CentrePort, with the company sustaining a revenue hit after last year's 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

As a result, the council has proposed to pull $2m from its contingency fund, which stood at $40.4m in the 2016-17 Annual Plan, and another $2m through debt funding.

The council has also been left to make up a shortfall for rail services following funding losses.

It has budgeted for reduced contributions from the New Zealand Transport Agency, and the loss of an interest-free loan for rail infrastructure from the Crown.

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As a result, the council has proposed to delay several rail initiatives due to uncertainty over funding.

Council spokesman Jim Flack said the Crown loan was part of a fixed-term funding package to help pay for the Matangi fleet.

With the loan period now ended, the council would need to pay the outstanding amount of $26.5m at the organisation's average interest rate of 5.27 per cent.

The council has been approached for comment on how much funding they have lost from the NZTA, as well as what rail initiatives have been put on hold.

The council also wants to bring forward the purchasing of properties alongside the Hutt River in order to build a stopbank as part of its flood protection programme.

The council needs to acquire the properties to allow space to build the stopbank between the Melling and Ewen bridges.

The rates increase had been forecast to be as high as 9.3 per cent in the council's 2015-25 Long-Term Plan.

Councillor Paul Swain said while it was an achievement to reduce the rates rise, any increase would affect workers on fixed or low incomes.

PROPOSED RATES INCREASES

Wellington
Average capital value (residential): $551,000
Average rates increase in 2017-18: $24
Average rates bill for 2017-18: $486

Lower Hutt
Average capital value (residential): $471,000
Average rates increase in 2017-18: $43
Average rates bill for 2017-18: $597

Upper Hutt
Average capital value (residential): $413,000
Average rates increase in 2017-18: $40
Average rates bill for 2017-18: $516

Porirua
Average capital value (residential): $487,000
Average rates increase in 2017-18: $42
Average rates bill for 2017-18: $565

Kapiti Coast
Average capital value (residential): $389,000
Average rates increase in 2017-18: $22
Average rates bill for 2017-18: $394

Masterton
Average capital value (residential): $251,000
Average rates increase in 2017-18: $9
Average rates bill for 2017-18: $150

Carterton
Average capital value (residential): $264,000
Average rates increase in 2017-18: $7
Average rates bill for 2017-18: $184

South Wairarapa
Average capital value (residential): $281,000
Average rates increase in 2017-18: $10
Average rates bill for 2017-18: $207

 - Stuff

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