Tena Kotou katoa Nga Mihi Nui

Plimmerton Residents’ Association (PRA) presents this submission, or series of statements, regarding Porirua Council’s Draft Long Term Plan. The items addressed follow the order in the “Summary of The City’s Draft Long Term Plan”. 1. City priorities 2. Budget priorities / finances 3. Major projects 4. Cost cutting 5. Working with other councils 6. Other consultation matters

Summary of Recommendations: That; 1. The PCC’s rating system be re-examined and moved from a propertybased system. That PCC make strong recommendations to central government advocating a change be made to the current options available to local bodies in charging local rates/taxes. Use the Shand report as a basis. 2. The currently recommended percentage increases (DLTP table page 10) in rates be strictly adhered to assuming that a more equitable system cannot be implemented. Further that the percentages referred to are not compounding. That they refer to the percentage of the original base amount of the starting year of 2012. 3. More user pays be implemented in certain areas. 4. The PRA fully supports PCC implementing the Submission by the “Porirua Economic Development Group”. 5. A social and community responsibility aspect of PCC be examined and a position be adopted and publicised by council.

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6. Strongly support the implementation of 2012 Porirua Harbour and Catchment Strategy and Action Plan. Background: Regarding the rates issue. The PRA understands PCC’s overall position that revenue gathering is mainly confined to rating its residents/owner occupiers and commercial operators. This is noted to be 73% of the total revenue take. We also note that the debt level per household falls into the lower part of the section of a national league table. The council is to be commended for this. Contrasting with this debt level is the view that if an infrastructure asset lasts for more than one generation then the debt may be appropriate. Porirua City is one of the younger NZ cities and consequently has one of the lower revenue gathering opportunities from investment assets. This is matched to some aging infrastructural commitments. Plimmerton has some of the higher rating costs per household in the city. Property values in Plimmerton have been rising steadily for a number of years. The net effect has been that central government optioned PCC formula has seen more residents in the village struggle to keep up with the rate of increases over the last few years. This has been observed with considerable numbers of people assertively and aggressively complaining that PCC rates are too heavy a burden to carry in relation to similar services provided to households with lower rating charges. Many people in this position have found that the rates load is significant and have left this area. Many of our older residents and those who are less economically advantaged fall into this category. Rates relief is available and we will do our best to publicise this to them. It is then appreciated by residential property occupiers in Plimmerton to be informed that rates are deemed to only rise by a maximum of 3.04% (e.g. properties up to $1,000,000 value) this coming year. Noting also that the movement in the CPI (to December 2011, Stats NZ) was pegged back to 1.85%. The more recent figure (March 2012) is 1.57% is of even more significance. No matter how this is viewed rates increases are well beyond both CPI figures and consequently a further burden to those people who have their income pegged to the CPI change. The Local Government Cost Index (LGCI) has grown much faster that the CPI since 2005. Further, the recommended rating increases must not be compounding – the base 2012 rate be used as a marker and that the percentage applied each year to the 2012 figure base.

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Local residents and people who visit Plimmerton also enjoy this beautiful environment and get the best from it. In terms of ‘social responsibility’ PCC needs to decide on what position they adopt. The direction here may well be based on the existing approach to the village strategies approach where by consultation is sought on how communities view this aspect of community responsibility. PCC needs to have central government respond as to where such onus rests. (The previous minister for local government, Nick Smith, had work carried out towards addressing this issue. Please see the link below for a quick overview of recommendations.)

http://beehive.govt.nz/release/better-local-government-reformsannounced?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed %3A+beehive-govt-nz%2FMinister%2FNickSmith+%28Nick+Smith++beehive.govt.nz%29

1. City Priorities A City of Villages We agree with the City Priorities as set out. Further we applaud the council for being proactive in working so closely and productively with our residents’ association. The results have been remarkable and are a testament to the hard work put in by so many residents since the 2004 formulated village plan and the tenacity of our PCC Manager of Village Programmes. We approach all our efforts made as being for the benefit of all residents and visitors to Porirua City. A Healthy and Protected Harbour The PRA agrees with the determination to further protect this taonga. This is our city centre-piece and needs to have the damage already inflicted upon it minimised to the extent that the decreased cockle count (we do note that the cockle count indicator is currently constant but lower than 1970s measurements) indicator, amongst others, be addressed so that such indicators do not dip below current measurement levels. We appreciate the work carried out by various organisations and individual thus far. The recently launched ‘Harbour Strategy’, will be of huge value to all in the area. The PRA is relying on the council to ensure that the Detailed Harbour Action plan be implemented and further, that the GWRC take that responsibility as stated in the March 2012 action plan.

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Further managing PCC responsibilities in areas of residential development and expansion are of extreme importance to us all. We also note that all road and rail run off during rain enters the harbour as storm water. Mitigating this risk would advantage all organisms in the harbour’s food chain and bottom environment. Responsibility for run off may well rest with other authorities.

A Growing City The City Centre Revitalization Plan has been received with mixed community reactions. A re-current view is that such planning be held off until some surety of direction has been agreed to by GWRC and PCC. If the city is to ensure its self of better revenue it not only needs to examine what its residents need but also those of the wider commercial trading sector. What ever is put in place the outcomes must reflect that we have many different cultural streams in our local society. Promotion must reflect our strengths. Many advertisements make no recognition of this fact. Many high achievers in the community from commercial, cultural and sporting aspects may be persuaded to involve themselves here to better promote the city. Sustainability is also an issue in today’s culture. Utilisation of the massive roofing area of many of the commercial buildings could be investigated and assessed independently. Surely using some basic solar energy could be implemented here, even if it was for hot water needs alone. Disposal of waste and how we approach our commercial environment needs also to be further considered. Here is a further opportunity in that if we are starting from a new position then more modern thinking can be taken into account for the development and implementation of plans. An inclusive cost / benefit exercise could be used as a criteria for decision making. Some German cities have embraced this approach in relation to clean solar energy. In our local community we have experts who would be able to assist PCC re this aspect. Even if initial costs were higher, the impact from promotional and environmental perspectives would be significant. Green buildings, green energy savings, green waste disposal may be a very strong draw card for potential commercial operations, investors and residents. We have an opportunity here let us not ‘waste’ it. Trash Palace and associated Poly Palace should be an inspiration to planners as to what can be achieved.

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A Great City Experience No one can disagree with that. Existing businesses that have been established here are an indicator as to what commercial success can be achieved.

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Budget Priorities / Finances We agree with the priorities as outlined in the draft plan document covering; • • • Budget balancing. Debt levels. Depreciation, assuming that it does follow ‘best practice’ for local body government of this size. • • Investments. Mitigating infrastructural risks.

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Proposed Major Projects Infrastructure Projects; Water Services; agree with the major thrust of this policy. Roading; agree with the major thrust of this policy. Transmission Gully, agree with the major thrust of this policy. Landfill Development; agree with the major thrust of this policy. Questions regarding Landfill: 1. Is the reclamation/capture of methane still proceeding, and what is this gas being used for? 2. Has any investigation been carried out into placing incentives i to maximize recycling of rubbish collection Many users of private rubbish collections tend not to be recycling friendly. 3. What consideration is being given to a reduction of commercial/industrial waste with more emphasis non re cycling these waste materials?

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4. Is there a viable green waste policy and action plan in place that would be of real benefit to our communities. This is other than “no green matter of certain types at the landfill”. The approach of having local composting education is a very positive move. New Infrastructure Projects; Agree with the major thrust of this policy for this topic. Non-Infrastructure Projects; There has been some degree of concern expressed by various members of the Plimmerton community as regards strategic land purchases. The PRA has passed a unanimous motion in support of such purchases. It includes the statement that such land is for the use of all people in the city not just for Plimmerton residents. This endorses the fact that the villages programme has been very positive, especially for the Plimmerton approach. Other purchases and project allocation approximations are agreed to. 4. Proposals to Keep Costs Down Litter bins; we are hoping that this will not cause a further problem for residents and visitors to the area. Currently we are having problems in the Plimmerton area with people dropping all sorts of fast food wrappers and dumping beer bottles at popular parking spots. Plimmerton Library; Is this ‘an already made decision’. We oppose such a move as many older people and other residents will not have this facility available to them. Further, in an area that has some of the highest rates per household we would assume that some more comprehensive consultation would have taken place prior to a final decision being made. Was any effort made to examine how the community could have further been involved in the running, maintenance and administration of the facility? We would like to see the evidence that relates to this proposed decision. We agree to the community grants pool being reduced. Section 5.1 concerning levels of service; • To footpaths, this policy may well cause problems if there is a level of disrepair that could cause injury or suffering to users.

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Regarding PolyPalace and Trash Palace, if the heavy metal and valued metals collection/re-cycling could be increased then the unit could be more self-sufficient. PolyPalace is a real asset to Porirua and some extra examination of product usage could well be investigated. Gains thus far include recycling of a very slow to decay and environmentally unfriendly material (polystyrene) that is well used in housing insulation. The manager appears to have an excellent view as to product use. This may well be expanded. As well as to who is employed at the facility. Good to see that the personnel have come from areas that were not previously able to contribute to society. This is a good example of a council exercising a positive degree of social responsibility.

Section 5.2 concerning levels of service; • Parking is a real issue in terms of striking a balance between having Porirua as a destination where parking be used as a point of difference and revenue sourcing. Please keep in mind the Wellington situation of over policing, aggressive policies with public reaction to increased costs. Landfill fees - please see statements above regarding private rubbish bin collections. Further effort must be made to all commercial and industrial operations as to what and how rubbish disposal is considered. Library Fees - Porirua city needs to further attract young people and recent immigrants into using near free resources education from our libraries. Overdue book fees are a separate issue and fees must reflect what is happening at that level. A well-read community produces better-informed residents who make better individual choices and contribute to the community. They are investments for the future. Boatshed and associated activities must be 100% user pays. A ratepayer in a lower decile community must not support a high decile user who can well afford such a luxury. Indoor sports and recreation facilities attract a recovery rate of 30% where as out-door recovery rate is 8%. There appears to be an area of total social inequality operating here. We expect that any policy decisions about charging less than the fee needed to recover costs to be explicitly included in the methodology used to set such fees. Public disclosure of the methodology would be welcome.

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Aquatic Centres; the council does have a social responsibility to cater/provide facilities for its community. However further retention of such facilities must be linked to user numbers. Higher numbers attracted must lower costs. A drive to increase user numbers could be implemented here. Agree to higher commercial user charges.

Section 5.3 Selling non-strategic assets; • Moana Courts and similar facilities may well fall under the umbrella of central government’s social responsibility. This needs to be established and publicised so that the public understands why PCC would adopt such a position. PCC still needs to answer the issue regarding their position on community responsibilities and make that clear to the all residents of the city.

The other option is to make non-strategic assets self-sufficient but non-profit based.

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Working with other councils We are of the view that as many areas as possible must be further explored that can result in shared services in order to increase efficiencies and thus lower costs where ever possible. The caveat is that Porirua City must retain its own identity where local problems are best solved at the local level. The PRA acknowledges that; central government has increased compliance requirements of local government in many different areas, which must increase costs. However, there may well be the opportunity of reducing levels of bureaucracy by achieving increased levels of efficiency of shared services. This must be augmented through better measuring of management performance agreements and further enforcement of them, especially in areas where unnecessary, and/or, excessive management has been identified. A new approach towards management structure could be an advantage to PCC.

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Rates: The council must not exceed planned levels of increases over the ten year cycle of the LTP as a minimum target. Residents will be appreciative of such planned and low increases. However please note our earlier comments above on page 1 under the background statements. No one in Porirua city needs increases such as the range of 7% to 13%, this sort of immediate/sudden and unplanned change cannot be sustained by residents again. We still recognise and acknowledge the PRA’s submission to PCC titled Rates and Local Authority Funding Inquiry, 26 April 2007. This paper covers rates and is an apposite set of observations with recommendations. I have re-submitted this for further consideration as it agrees with the then Porirua Steering Group (PSG). I am sure that you will be able to locate a copy of the (PSG) paper. The PRA recommends that the Rates and Local Authority Funding Inquiry, 26 April 2007 submission be re-examined for points of advantage to the council and community. While we do not necessarily agree with a central government based collection methods other points in this report are well worth reexamination Further that consideration for implementation be given to such identified points of local advantage.

Other Consultation Matters: 1. Fees and Charges for Resource and Building consents applications are high enough. Any increases will be a further restraint of development. Note that the CPI (to December 2011, Stats NZ) was only 1.85%. 2. Financial and Statutory Policies etc. We have no comment to make here. 3. E-Voting. A very good idea to investigate this and be part of a testing programme. Any move to increase participation by people must be positive. This approach will definitely assist those residents who have a disability. However older and some residents who are non e-literate will need the standard paper forms. 4. Moana court. Please see the earlier comments. 5. Transport strategy. We support PCC’s position here.

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6. Regional Amenities Fund. This is a two-way street position. If we pay funds towards many of Wellington region’s assets, mainly located in the capital, it follows that proportionally an amount of this funding should also be allocated toward Porirua (quid pro quo) and our facilities that are enjoyed by all of the Wellington regions residents and international visitors. The rationale for this further tax is very hard to understand in that funding is already allocated towards many of the projects in Wellington. Whilst “Zealandia” is a wonderful experience perhaps it needs a longer run in period to be considered profitable. No one can disagree that Te Papa is in the position of being our National Museum. However, how do we now view it in terms of making a profit and therefore if it is in debt is it the sole responsibility of the Wellington region? This topic needs far more discussion before a position may be adopted by the PRA.

Recommendations and Conclusions by The 2012 PRA are that: Rates be struck according to a formula other than a property-based system. The existing formula means that the rate of increase usually outstrips the CPI and / or inflation increase. The disadvantage to residents of automatic increases is obvious. Whereas councils find this easy to live with because of the concomitant matched increase in revenue that will be accrued by councils. There is no equity in the continuance of such a system because so many residents in the city are disadvantaged. It may also be considered that in the event of property values decreasing council would suffer a matching revenue decrease. Residents who are long-term owners are disadvantaged while property investors merely pass on such cost increases to their tenants. The overall result is that the percentage increase in Plimmerton rates is predicated by a proportional financial increase in city responsibility borne by residents in this area of the city. This obviously applies to many other areas of the city as well. Other options to be considered are: o o Income tax collecting. A further GST increase.

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o o o

Green taxation. Toilet tax. Poll tax.

An implementation of any of these centrally government based revenue gathering systems assume that funds are then re-distributed or reallocated to local councils by central government. This would result in revenue collected from any of the following. I have not further analysed any of these structures because the main work or commentary has been completed in Mr Sheppard’s paper. The Plimmerton Resident’s Association puts this paper forward in the hope that further more equitable approaches may be analysed and implemented to realise better outcomes for our wider community. Colin Bleasdale Plimmerton Residents’ Associatoion Chair 2012.

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