Council votes to increase rates burden

The council has been deep in discussions around the draft annual plan for some weeks now, and reports are starting to emerge of a very strong left/right divide, and the numbers might surprise you.

Report Two of Tuesday’s Strategy and Policy Committee (SPC) covers the findings of the Funding and Activity Review Working Party and recommends a massive slew of price increases. The key finding they presented on the rates differential was this:

Revenue and Financing Policy outlines a shift in the commercial to residential general rate differential from 3.1:1 in 2010/11 to 2.8:1 in 2011/2012.

The brief commentary on the decision making process that has managed to slip into the report is this:

There were differing views on whether the differential shift was affordable to residential ratepayers, and the recommendation was not a unanimous agreement.

That barely scratches the surface. Councillors Foster, Best and Lester all strongly spoke for business. They all advocated for a “business first” approach and the fact it was the last year in a review of the differential done 10 years ago (that’s right, 10 years ago).

Paul Eagle spoke first supporting the residential – for those without a voice, fixed and modest incomes, the vulnerable and saying there was absolutely no reason why we couldn’t hold the drop to 2.8:1.  This would no doubt have made a major impact in his ward. He was supported by both Cr. Ritchie and Gill.  Stephanie Cook was absent but we understand she would have been supportive.

The point that may most surprise some on the left would be how their Great Green Hope, Celia Wade-Brown, voted. As you may have guessed, she voted to move the rates burden from commercial to residential. She’s never had support on the right, and is burning every bridge she has on the left – her chances of re-election in 2013 are rapidly evaporating.

Other news about the Funding and Activity Review working party:

  • Andy Foster aggressively drove most of the rise in user charges and fees – manipulating and tormenting other councillors behind closed doors to comply.
  • He also strenuously tried to get the fees for the new Indoor Community Sports Centre elevated beyond the 25% target suggested. For Wellington Netball, court fees per team per 20 week season are about $5.70 per team; the same 20 week competition using 12 courts at the new ICSC with the proposed fee of $55.00 per court per hour would equate to 1,920 cours hours at $55.00 per hour realising court hire costs of $105,600 for a 20 week season or $438.00 per team (assuming 241 teams).
  • Could it be said that Cr. Foster was still trying to engineer matters so the ISIC would fail and that he could have the last laugh? Remember he cost the council millions of dollars in staff time and over $230,000 to do a fourth review.

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