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Hutt City Council commits to big investment in water

Hutt City Council has today agreed to continue its significant investment in water infrastructure and transport in its draft 10-year plan which will go out for community consultation in April.

“This is the largest capital delivery programme in our city’s history. Our draft Long Term Plan [LTP] today prioritises spending $1.5 billion over 10 years to safeguard our city’s drinking water network and to provide effective stormwater and wastewater systems for our people,” says Mayor Campbell Barry.

“Wellington Water has advised they could deliver up to $2.5 billion in water infrastructure over the next 10 years, but without reform or central Government funding that is completely unaffordable for our ratepayers.”

Mayor Barry has also gained support from councillors to include an extra $2.8 million in the draft LTP so Wellington Water Ltd can eliminate the current backlog of leaks in Lower Hutt by December 2024. The measures are designed to mitigate the risk of an acute water shortage next summer.

“The situation this summer is not sustainable year on year. While pipe renewals are the only long-term fix in stopping leaks, we need to be doing everything we can to avoid an acute water shortage in the short term.

“We are declaring a crackdown on leaks in Lower Hutt,” he says.

“We have asked Wellington Water to work with the private sector to help clear the current backlog.”

This significant investment in water and transport infrastructure, alongside the pressures of inflation, insurance increases and other unavoidable cost increases means Hutt City Council will be consulting on higher levels of rate increases and borrowing.

Cost increases have been offset through savings of around $35M over the ten years of the LTP which have a favourable rates impact.

The draft LTP, which maps the Council’s spending priorities over the coming decade, proposes a 16.9% rates revenue increase (after growth) for the year starting on 1 July 2024.

“Elected members take no joy in proposing this level of rates increase. But what we aren’t willing to do is kick the can down the road on desperately needed investment in water and transport infrastructure. Nobody wins in the long run if we do that.

“Water and transport make up 83% of Council’s capital investment over 10 years. We are focused on the basics.”

Mayor Barry and Councillors are conscious of the rates impact on low-income households. With that in mind, a new Rates Remission Policy (RRP) is included in the draft LTP for public comment.

The proposal would see a rates remission of up to $250 a year for low-income households. It’s in addition to the Government’s rates rebate scheme and uses the same criteria.

“Rates are a vital mechanism to fund infrastructure and the core services, facilities and amenities that council provides. But we acknowledge there is real hardship for those on a very low household income. Our rates remission proposal is a direct response to that.”

Other key issues the public are invited to comment on in the draft LTP include:

  • The future of Petone, particularly how to prioritise spending on the Petone Wharf, the Petone Library and the earthquake-prone Petone Recreation Ground grandstand.
  • A new weekly kerbside service to collect food scraps and green organics in one bin. The service is proposed to start in July 2027, but would only go ahead with government funding.

The public has the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft LTP from Tuesday 2 April through to Friday 3 May 5pm.

Elected members will consider the feedback as part of the process to adopt the new LTP which will take effect on 1 July 2024.

 

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