Good News On Rates

Ross ChurchKapiti Mayor says rate rise may be cut back 30%

By Alan Tristram

Kapiti Coast Councillors have been told average rates increase for 2014/15 could be reduced by nearly 30% — to an average of 4.81%, compared to 6.8% noted in the Long Term Plan last year.

Mayor Ross Church says the new rates were discussed at the first of several KCDC workshops to consider spending priorities.

These are part of the Proposed Annual Plan for the next financial year.

 

The workshops, which are open to the public, will run through this month to early March.

The Mayor, who’s Workshop Chair, says 2014/15 is a year of consolidation for Council.

KCDC Civic Building
KCDC Civic Building

He says: “With significant projects such as the Coastlands Aquatic Centre and upgraded Civic Building completed and, the water supply project, water meters and the expressway well underway, this is a year to take stock and tighten the purse strings.”

The Mayor also says he is pleased with the steps Council has taken to reach an indicative average rates increase of just 4.81%. However, he says, the final figure will depend on whether Councillors, in the workshops, agree with the proposed changes.

“When we began the annual planning process late last year we had some large costs to address.” he says.

“The Mainzeal collapse pushed out the budget on the Coastlands Aquatic Centre; and some spending we had deferred had to be met.Aq Centre VIP event pool 3

“A considerable effort has gone into reviewing all expenditure and making some hard decisions. Underpinning our discussions over the coming weeks will be a determination to further contain costs and make every dollar count for the benefit of Kāpiti.”

Mayor Church says cuts of $5.9m were achieved through reductions in capital works and a further $3.2m gained through reducing operational spending.

Some savings have been made through proposed reductions in strategic land purchases and parks and reserve spending.

A proposed youth centre for Kāpiti may be deferred.  A second hydroslide for the Coastlands Aquatic Centre may also be put on hold.  There is also a proposal to delay the refit of the old Raumati pool building and to reduce projected spending on economic development.

Inflation makes up 1.53% of the projected 4.81% average rate increase.

Seven workshops will be held to discuss aspects of the Draft Annual plan. Residents are welcome to attend the sessions, held in Council Chambers in the Civic Building. Details can be found on the Council website www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/draft-annual-plan

Following the workshops, the draft plan will be presented to Council for formal consideration on 20 March. Once adopted, it will be open for public consultation and submissions from 26 March to 28 April 2014.

“We want to make sure we hear what ratepayers have to say,” says Mr Church. “I encourage people to look at the Draft Annual Plan and submit on any issues they feel strongly about. Community input will determine the projects that will be undertaken and the final rates figure.”

The Draft Annual Plan and submission form will be published on Council’s website www.kapiticoast.govt.nz from 26 March. Printed copies will also be available at Council service centres and libraries.

Thank you John for your constructive comments. We the public actually thought this was what we were voting for in the last election. Just more smokes and mirrors it appears and one thing is for sure that there is no accountability, all the staff are protected for some reason, I wonder why that is?

As for sorting anything out round table is in fact the last place council go. Consultants and Legal address is order of the day and all at the expense of the rate payer, no wonder the coffers are bare.

As for lunches I think they are ‘out to lunch’ the majority of the time and forget why they are there and who in fact they serve.

Now the mayor is admitting a cost blow out of the Aquatic Centre. No doubt admission fees will be increased to try to offset this extra debt. Increasing fees to bring in extra revenue is a fallacy as can be evidenced by DOC increasing fees for Kapiti Island. If the borrowing of books from the library is generally free the council should look at applying a similar standard to the Aquatic Centre which has a therapeutic value for the elderly, community card holders and the disabled. The benefits of water based exercises on rehabilitation and improving the quality of life are well known. The $5 fee for entry to Aquafit classes is already excessive. Increasing the fee will merely result in less people using the facilities. The admission fee for senior citizens and community card holders should also be unchanged for 2014.

Councillors should be carrying out their governance role properly by demanding of the executive;

1) Executive team salaries pegged to zero increase unless ‘they walk on water’ as applies to other sections of the public sector. No performance related pay unless they go well beyond the requirements of the job and have AAA + performance reviews. (Unlike magician Dynamo They certainly do not walk on water or even give the illusion of doing so!)
2) Reductions in Council administrative costs; (approximately $20M per $50M annually is spent on Council running costs including staff and associated overheads (apparently KCDC has the highest staff to ratepayers ratio in the country–why?); it certainly has the highest debt in the region.
3) Expenditure only on core services unless there are demonstrable economic and social benefits from doing otherwise. (Should be a standard requirement to justify any expenditure)
4) Proper control and monitoring of Council expenditure through adequate oversight and reporting ( e.g. in the case of the Clean Tech debacle–surely someone in the executive team must have been responsible for releasing payments to the Clean Tech Trust; surely someone should have been requesting regular updates and proper financial reporting; surely the Councillors involved should have been asking questions; surely someone should have been aware of what was going on; surely someone is responsible? (If this were a commercial business with a Board the directors they would be required to report on these sort of financial matters to their shareholders i.e. the ratepayers and expect a severe ‘kicking’ if they get it wrong–certainly not a bonus).
5) Reduction in legal expenses by not resorting to legal action particularly against ratepayers ( a double whammy) but attempt to resolve issues through dialogue, genuine consultation and early involvement before issues escalate into huge problems and create huge public reactions.
6) Council staff actually carry out much of the work in house that they are perfectly qualified to do that is put out to the ever increasing band of expensive consultants. (Otherwise what is their over paid role?)
7) Communications team stop wasting so much effort on spin.
8) Executive team face up to problems in a genuine manner and not be so defensive and combative.
9) Openness and transparency in all Council dealings.
10)Cut back all unnecessary expenditure. (The Councillors lunches should definitely go for a start.)

Wellington City Council have signalled a rate increase of 2.5% and Hutt City 2.4%. Now the Mayor is predicting a rate increase of 4.8% for Kapiti ratepayers. This is simply ridiculous on top of a proposed water meter rate which has not been finalised. The elderly and community card holders will find this increase outrageous. What the Mayor should be promising is to reduce the proposed rate of 4.8% by half not some esoteric figures he grabbed from thin air.

Sound familiar? Rates could have been 6%+ but low and behold KCDC have managed to get them down to less than 5%. Its the bargain of the century! (Sound like car salesman’s talk?). But wait there’s more…..
KCDC communications unit are obviously working overtime peddling the party line…and local newspapers appear to publish their press releases without query.
(Not so long ago –during the last election campaign by none other than the now incumbent Mayor) we were told rates could have been 12% but we managed to get them down to 6%+…. rate payers should be jolly grateful! … despite very low inflation!)
Get real Mayor Church–a large proportion of rate payers are on fixed income—I am sure if this was your personal fixed income you would not increase your expenditure—but because it is ratepayers income you feel free to increase expenditure year on year over and above inflation.
I thought sustainability meant living within your means!