Wellington Regional Council clobbers ratepayers with near-10pc rates rise – so why just one “no” vote?

Alf is disinclined, usually, to see much good in the political decisions of lefties

But he was pleasantly surprised to find Paul Swain doing the right thing by hard-pressed ratepayers in the Wellington Regional Council’s domain, which reaches over the Rimutakas and into the Wairarapa.

Swain has voted against a rates hike of almost 10 per cent but was something of a Lone Ranger on this matter.

The rest of the council voted for the rates rise and $550,000 of funding for the Capital Connection to be written into Greater Wellington Regional Council’s long-term budget.

Here’s how Stuff reports on the matter:

Councillors voted on Tuesday to approve the final wording of its 2015-25 long-term plan, which includes an average annual rates increase of 9.8 per cent – or about $38 for the average home – for the 2015-16 financial year.

Upper Hutt representative Paul Swain was the only regional councillor who voted against the final wording of the budget, because he felt the rates increase was too much.

It had been marketed to the public as an increase of just 73 cents a week for the average home. But seemingly small increases often felt much larger for people on fixed incomes, Swain said,

“It’s 73 cents on top of additional cents that pay for power and food … and everything else.”

The rates increase of $10 million is made up of $1.1m to keep existing services running, $4.8m to fund the council’s current capital investment programme and $4.1m for new activity.

Council chairwoman Fran Wilde is reported to have explained that while the regional council had a “big bulge” in its rates because of the millions spent on improving the region’s rail service in recent years, this would go down over time.

The 9.8 per cent rate hike was needed to pay for all of the big projects the community was calling for, she said.

“Our rates have traditionally been quite low compared with [local council] rates.”

Councillors will vote to formally adopt the long-term plan on June 30.

Doesn’t Fran quit as chairwoman about then?

Alf is uncertain about the timing but he does know she is resigning in the aftermath of the idea of a Wellington super-city – which she zealously promoted – being rejected.

More significantly, a letter of no confidence in Fran was signed by nine other councillors.

But Swain did not sign the letter.

Nor did Chris Laidlaw, another leftie, or Judith Aitken, a former boss of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which is as bad as being a leftie.

But come to think of it – Fran comes from the Labour side of the divide, and Alf observes that Sue Kedgley – a contgender to replace her – sits on the council, too, and shes a notorious greenie.

No wonder the bloody region is being lumbered with a rates rise well above the rate of inflation.

If there are any Tories in there, would they please stand up and explain why they went along with the mob

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