Kāpiti Coast councillors want to know if the district will face an extra rates bill from the government’s latest proposals to fix the housing affordability crisis.
The government’s proposed Urban Development Bill would allow the new Kainga Ora agency to set up Specified Development Projects, which could include mixed housing, transport connections, and community facilities.
Only qualified support
Although councillors strongly agree that housing is a major priority their support is qualified by two questions.
The first is rates. The proposed legislation would allow a Specified Development project to be financed by rates which it would set itself, turning the KCDC into a collection agency. KCDC already collects rates for the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
Cr Gwyn Compton was concerned the government was sidelining councils by blurring the lines.
The councillors also had a submission from Greypower noting that Kapiti receives up to 75 per cent of its income from rates in a council where the median income is $10.000 lower than the median for councils throughout the country.
The second question mark is about the long-term.
Would a housing development be returned to the KCDC in the future, saddling it with maintenance costs for roads, water and general community facilities?
Councillors were told the Bill now before Parliament does not set the standards which would be required for any development. The words “leaky home” were mentioned.
Councillors also had a copy of submissions to parliament from SOLGM which represents 870 local government CEOs, managers and senior staff.
The SOLGM submission noted that some councils had experience of Housing New Zealand developments with stormwater and water reticulation which met building codes but not the local council’s infrastructure standards.
Council CEO Wayne Maxwell said the bill recognised current development processes were too slow but the powers could be given to local councils.
Cr Rob McCann said councillors should recognise what the government was trying to achieve while people were living in cars, shacks and caravans.
The problem needed to be solved and targeted rates were an option. with the government unwilling to propose new taxes.
Holborow warns about rate raises
Deputy mayor Janet Holborow said she recognised the housing crisis but people did not want new rates.
Mayor Gurunathan said with the country facing a housing crisis councillors should support the bill subject to the reservations in the council’s submission to Parliament’s Environment committee.