Wellington is a lively city with an outstanding quality of life.
This year’s budget recognises that rates affordability is a significant issue for many households and businesses – and the importance of delivering our Wellington Towards 2040: Smart Capital vision of a prosperous and inclusive city where people, business and nature thrive.
Savings have been found through efficiencies and minor reductions to some services. Staff found $14.1 million in savings as part of this process – a huge achievement, especially given the strong focus on minimising the impact on users and on the Council’s strategic priorities.
Significant earthquake-strengthening projects and the Town Hall project will protect Wellington’s rich built heritage and create jobs.
We received 460 written submissions, of which 329 completed submission survey forms. In addition, 441 completed an online survey, and we saw an increase in the number of first-time submitters. We listened to 74 oral presentations. This input is vital to the process. Some proposals were removed from the draft plan in direct response to public feedback, and we added other initiatives into the final plan after hearing from the community. A summary of the changes made from the draft plan is outlined on page 12.
I’m heartened that the Smart Energy Capital initiative received such strong public support during the consultation period from businesses and residents. Successful new proposals include the development of a Living Wage framework, increase to funding for cycling and Orchestra Wellington. We are maintaining our contribution to the Regional Amenities Fund at the 2012/13 levels.
The final result is a plan that allowed us to hold the average rates rise to 2.5 percent – our target and less than the draft plan.
The amount of rates individual properties pay will vary. On average, the residential sector will have a 3.1 percent rates increase before growth while the impact on the city's commercial sector will be 1.9 percent.
Despite the lower increase for the commercial sector, the commercial sector will still pay more rates than a residential ratepayer on a property of equal value. This is because of the ‘differential’ rating policy that sees the commercial ratepayers pay 2.8 times more general rates on a property of equal value.
There are also targeted rates that apply only to the commercial, downtown commercial or the residential sectors.
The Council is in good financial shape with an AA credit rating and manageable borrowings, although we will continue to face challenges from issues such as weathertight home liabilities, earthquake-strengthening requirements and cost pressures. We’re ahead of our Long-term Plan savings targets and therefore have increased capability to deliver economic development initiatives.
Together we can be proud of Wellington’s successes.
MAYOR CELIA WADE-BROWN