The Dom Post editorial:
Wellington City Council chief executive Kevin Lavery said he felt “deflated” when councillors blew his carefully crafted annual plan out of the water. He was being diplomatic, no doubt. In fact, the politicians had behaved irresponsibly.
Mr Lavery had presented them with a plan that held rate increases within the council’s self-imposed limit of 2.5 per cent. But then councillors voted to fund extra projects – and by the end of the meeting the rates increase had jumped to 2.75 per cent. Mr Lavery was entitled to feel miffed. Officials “actually gave you $300,000 to spare”, he noted. Instead, they had overshot.
This was bad enough, but Councillor Bryan Pepperell rubbed salt in the wound. He said council staff should work to reduce the rates increase to 2.5 per cent when the full council meets in two weeks to adopt the yearly budget. This was an outrageous suggestion, and Mr Pepperell rightly got a caning for it.
Cr Simon Marsh said it was like saying, “we made the mess, now someone else clean it up”. Exactly.
The buck has to stop with the politicians themselves. They have to make the tough calls on cuts and they have to resist the urge to fund their pet projects. In this case they failed to do either.
We need Councillors who can make tough decisions, rather than keep increasing our rates beyond the ability of households to pay.