NEWS Dom Post: Wellington residents call for big council salaries to be trimmed to keep rates down

 by Michael Forbes
Wellington City councillors have spent the past two days hearing what members of the public think the capital's rates ...

CAMERON BURNELL/ FAIRFAX NZ

Wellington City councillors have spent the past two days hearing what members of the public think the capital’s rates should be spent on.

If Wellington City Council needs a way to keep the rates down, it could always lighten the pay packets of almost 200 staff who earn more than $100,000.

That was the rather blunt suggestion from the Mt Victoria Residents Association during public hearings on this year’s annual plan.

The council has proposed an average rates increase of 3.8 per cent for 2016/17 but has stated its desire to get that down to at least 3.6 per cent before the rates are struck in June.

Living wage advocates have congratulated the council for paying giving some of its staff a pay rise, but has urged it to ...

ROSS GIBLIN/ FAIRFAX NZ

Living wage advocates have congratulated the council for paying giving some of its staff a pay rise, but has urged it to do more.

The forecast residential rates increase is 5.3 per cent before growth.

Association spokeswoman Sue Watt said Mt Victoria residents were not happy with those projections, particularly when a record number of 192 council staff took home more than $100,000 in 2015.

A proposal to extend Wellington Airport's runway by 354 metres has been a hot topic during public hearings over the city ...

WIAL

A proposal to extend Wellington Airport’s runway by 354 metres has been a hot topic during public hearings over the city council’s annual plan.

About 35 individuals and organisations made submissions on Tuesday, many commenting on the big projects Wellington has on the boil.

Some of the popular ideas were the proposal for establishing an urban development agency, which could play the property market and drive major developments by packaging land acquisitions.

The was also plenty of support for getting moving on earthquake strengthening the town hall.

Less popular was the proposal to extend Wellington Airport’s runway by 354 metres at a cost of $300m, $90m of which is expected to come from city ratepayers.

Dr Sea Rotmann​, from community group Guardians of the Bay, said the council’s stated aim of being a “low carbon capital” was a hollow statement if it wanted to encourage more long-haul flights.

If annual passenger traffic in Wellington grew to the forecast 16.1 million in 2060 with a runway extension that would translate to a significant increase in emissions, she said.

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