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GWRC proposed increase ‘ludicrous’

The Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] will vote today on a proposed 19.8 per cent rates rise for 2024/25 that’s included in consultation material for its Long Term Plan [LTP] 2024 to 2034.

The New Zealand Taxpayers Union has slammed the proposed rates hike, calling it “ludicrous” and “unjustifiable”.

A GWRC rates rise would affect all homeowners in Masterton, Carterton, and South Wairarapa as the cost is passed on to local councils and invoiced along with general council rates.

Councillors and mana whenua make up the GWRC LTP Committee that will consider the LTP’s draft consultation document and supporting information for approval.

Public consultation on the LTP will open on March 18 and close on April 22.

GWRC chair Daran Ponter noted that inflation, insurance premiums, interest rates, and operating costs have risen significantly since the LTP was last reviewed in 2021.

In December last year, GWRC signalled that a double-digit rates rise was on the cards for this year but that lower increases in upcoming years would follow.

“We’ve worked hard to find savings by keeping personnel positions vacant, reducing operational expenditure, rephasing and reprioritising projects, as well as increasing borrowing terms,” Ponter said.

The proposed rates increase of 19.8 per cent equates to an approximate average increase per week of $3.57 for residential ratepayers, $7.04 for business ratepayers, and $2.51 for rural ratepayers regionwide.

The LTP also includes propositions for GWRC to purchase Horizons Regional Council’s stake in CentrePort Limited – a port and logistics business in Wellington – and lease land for two new bus depots in Lyall Bay in northern Wellington, in line with Metlink’s Asset Control Strategy.

Ponter said that projects already in place or that have committed funding have also resulted in the rates hike.

“This includes vital flood defence upgrades in the Hutt Valley and the design and planning of two storage lakes for bulk water supply,” he said.

Residents can also give feedback on the LTP about activities like increasing funding for pest management, restoration work in regional parks, and renewable electricity generation options to meet growing needs for the rail network, electric buses, and bulk water supply.

Taxpayers Union spokesman Alex Murphy said the “ludicrous” hike is to scare ratepayers into “thinking that this is just the way it has to be”.

He criticised the GWRC’s spending habits – including the number of staff on salaries over $100,000, $75 million spent on consultants and contractors in 2023, and $4000 that went towards buying MPs Snapper Cards to get around Wellington.

“GWRC need to realise that proposing a rates hike of over four times the level of inflation isn’t just unacceptable, it’s unjustifiable,” Murphy said.

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