Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau supports 12 percent rate rise for homeowners

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau supports the 12 percent rate rise for homeowners.
Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau supports the 12 percent rate rise for homeowners. Photo credit: RNZ


Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau backs a more than 12 percent rate hike for homeowners in the region.

The forecast 12.8 percent rates increase in the 2023/24 annual plan still needs to be voted on by the council after public consultation.

Whanau told Morning Report the council had an obligation to implement projects voted in by previous councils, but she would have voted for the increases regardless.

"A lot of these projects are to do with maintaining our level of service, meeting our climate change objectives, and our housing as well."

The increase would come down to 12.3 percent once forecast rates were taken into consideration, she said.

Whanau said the capital had decades of under-investment in water, infrastructure and housing.

She said about $3 million would go to Wellington Water for work on pipes, and that sum would increase significantly in the next long-term plan. There was also money destined for earthquake strengthening buildings.

The council was unable to defer costs of current projects despite the long-term nature of the work.

"We are borrowing quite a large number, $2.6 billion over time, but a lot of the rates increase is paying for projects very much in the near future. We have Let's Get Wellington Moving coming up so we're going to have a lot of construction on our streets."

The rates increase comes after 13.5 percent and 8.8 percent rises in the past two years.

Whanau said falling property prices in the region would be included in future rates reviews, but the plunge would not affect this year's annual plan.

She said she understood the cost would be tough for many people to meet.

"I know it's tough, and I do feel that for our community."

The council was exploring options with central government to help those on lower incomes, she said, but would not be drawn on the specifics of any initiatives.

The mayor supported the government's Three Waters plan as it would take water infrastructure costs off the council's balance sheet, she said.

Christchurch City Council has proposed a rates increase of 5.68 percent and Aucklanders will have a say on Mayor Wayne Brown's first budget containing proposals to plug a $295 million shortfall.