Weekly column by Kāpiti's Greater Wellington Regional Council representative Penny Gaylor.
Our big news coming out of Wellington Regional Council's meeting last Thursday was that we've signed off on our draft Annual Plan for the financial year starting July 1 - and like everyone we are striving to manage the costs of our services because we understand the economic realities now and ahead of us.
With the post-Covid-19 recovery in sharp focus, we agreed to reduce our previously planned 2020/21 regional rates from an average of 6.3 per cent down to 3 per cent.
Throughout the lockdown period GWRC staff re-looked at the entire budget, and as councillors we continued to meet via Zoom to discuss and debate the impacts on our work programme, and matching those needs with impacts on our communities across the Wellington region.
The reductions will be achieved through a mixture of savings, reserves, and borrowing, so Greater Wellington can keep investing in our priority work programmes such as public transport, flood defences and environmental work - which I know the Kapiti Coast values as well.
With the overall impact of Covid-19 still to be seen, it's important to share that we know we need to be prepared to be agile in our response over the next year, particularly because of the uncertainty over the level of fare revenue from public transport as people's travel patterns change.
We also discussed a joint loan with Wellington City Council to support the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust at a cost of $2.1 million to Greater Wellington which is repayable over 10 years. This loan facility, if needed, would have a very limited impact on rates in 2020/21.
We all have an opportunity to help the stadium by going to the rugby match on Sunday between the Hurricanes and the Crusaders - I'm going - and I hope to see you there.
Council also considered how we can continue our work to achieve our progressive ambitious target for GWRC operations to be carbon neutral by 2030. So our draft annual plan includes a new $2m internal budget for the council's low carbon initiatives which will be funded by borrowing and paid back from the sale of Greater Wellington's New Zealand Council Emissions Trading Scheme units, which are presently valued at around $7.2m.
All of GWRC's councillors are committed to this goal which we'd ambitiously set last August. Being a leader in this type of thinking means we need to make opportunities for showing how it can be done, and doing it ourselves.
There is no significant departure from the current Long Term Plan for 2018-28 so no consultation will be required on the draft annual plan, however, now is the opportunity for people to give early feedback on the direction of the next Long Term Plan which we have begun thinking about.
We will finalise and vote on the annual plan at Greater Wellington's Council meeting on June 25