A rates pledge for Wellington

The Dom Post reported:

Mayoral aspirant has promised to freeze at the level of inflation if she wins the top job in October.

The first-term city councillor said rates bills for many Wellingtonians had increased 20 per cent over the past four years, despite record low inflation and a 0.4 per cent increase in the consumer price index. 

“This price-gouging is wrong, especially when many Wellingtonians are facing stiff rates increases from rising property values across the city,” she said.

“It’s particularly tough for the increasing number of retired ratepayers on fixed incomes, and the many Wellingtonians whose wages aren’t keeping up with the city council’s rates increases.”

Wellington City Council’s proposed rates increase for 2016-17 is 3.8 per cent, although councillors will debate measures this week to get that down to 3.6 per cent before the rates are struck in June.

Young said the capital’s rates were a brake on economic growth, especially for small shops that were locked in fierce competition with online retailers.

She also promised to shift the city’s priorities towards “core local government services” and put an end to “vanity” projects, such as leasing pandas from China.

“We are pumping huge sums into professional sport, including $1 million to convert community sports pitches in Berhampore into training grounds for the [Wellington] Phoenix, a professional soccer team,” she said.

“As mayor I will ensure our focus is on community sports facilities and creating opportunities for Wellington’s children, not helping highly paid sportsmen.”

This is a great pledge and should be an example to all candidates. You should not vote for any candidate who will not set up an upper limit on how they’ll vote on rates increases. Otherwise you’re giving them a blank cheque.

A 3.8% rates increase is massive – almost ten times the rate of inflation. And when they keep doing it year after year it adds up. Here’s what a $4,000 rates bill would look like at 3.8% annual increase.

  • 2016 – $4,000
  • 2019 – $4,474
  • 2022 – $5,003
  • 2025 – $5,595
  • 2028 – $6,258
  • 2031 – $6,999

So five terms of a Council increasing rates at 3.8% a year and your rates bill has gone from $4,000 to $7,000. That’s an extra $60 a week in rates.

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