General Annual Plan FAQs
What is an Annual Plan?
Annual plans are how we deliver our long-term plans (LTPs) year on year. They identify our budget and activities, the resources to deliver them and where the resources will come from, for example rates or user charges.
What are rates?
In the same way, our national taxes contribute to the running of the country, Council rates are important to ensure Wellington continues to function.
We set our rates based on the needs of the community, demand for services and affordability in rates. Your money helps us deliver more than 400 day-to-day services and pay for the borrowings used to fund big capital projects across Wellington. (LINK: https://wellington.govt.nz/property-rates-and-building/rates/rates-explained/where-your-rates-go ).
The Council also collects rates on behalf of the Greater Wellington Regional Council. These rates are set by Greater Wellington. At the beginning of each rating year you will receive two Rates Assessment Notices: one detailing Wellington City Council rates and the other detailing Greater Wellington rates. Your quarterly instalment invoices, however, are combined to reflect both councils' rates on one invoice.
How much are rates going up this year?
This year’s budget includes a proposed rates increase of 12.3% after growth (the increase in the number of ratepayers) – an average of about $8.00 per household per week.
Has Council made savings to try to keep rates low?
We have taken steps to reduce costs, including deferring decisions about some new additional funding to next year, delaying debt repayments for COVID-related borrowing costs, using some surplus funds from previous years, and increasing some user fees and charges. A further $4.5 million in organisational savings will be made as part of this budget, on top of $30 million saved over the past three years. Without the interventions listed above, the rates increase would be 16.5%.
Why aren’t you borrowing over the long term with low interest rates to ease the rate increases?
We are – most of our major projects are debt-funded, and paid back over a long period so that the people who use them help pay for them. But we’re also providing over 400 services a day to Wellingtonians, and we can't use debt to cover these costs. It's similar to using a loan to cover everyday expenses like groceries. It is not financially prudent in the long or short term. But we still need to pay our librarians and lifeguards, maintain our parks and footpaths, and we’re subject to the same cost pressures everyone else is. This is what rates and the increases to rates is covering - our everyday expenses.
When will the final Annual Plan 2023-24 be available?
We will be consulting on the proposals in the Annual Plan in April / May 2023. Following that the final plan is due to be adopted by Council by the end of June 2023 and will then be available on our website from late July 2023.
How does the decision making process work?
The Annual Plan plan is the City Council's plan - ultimately the Mayor and Councillors approve the final plan. The critical input into their decision making however is community feedback through consultation.
Councillors set a proposal(s) for the Annual Pan plan in early 2023 which then is provided to the public for consultation.
The consultation will lay out Council's proposal along with alternative options and the benefits, costs and risks of each. Councillors then review public feedback once it is in and make their final decision of what is or is not in the plan.
Where can I get help to pay my rates if I am experiencing financial hardship?
There are several ways to help people manage their rates payments, such as spreading your payments into regular affordable amounts across the year.
Along with Central Government, we have a rates rebate scheme that provides a reduction in rates to those that meet set low-income criteria.
• if you are on a low income, you can apply for a Government rates rebate at: www.govt.nz/browse/housing-and-property/getting-help-with-housing/getting-a-rates-rebate
• for those who are eligible for the Government rates rebate, Council can provide an additional reduction of your rates and we are proposing changes in this area.
If you are worried about paying your rates invoice, please get in touch with us as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 04 499 4444.
There are also multiple ways to pay your rates: online, by direct debit, internet/telephone banking and in person at the Arapaki Service Centre on Manners Street or at any NZ Post shop.
If we cancel projects will rates go down?
The Council makes decisions on what projects and programmes are in and out of the budget every three years as part of the Long-term Plan process. This is a 10-year plan that allows us to map out the future of the city. This Annual Plan is year 3 of the 2021-31 Long-term Plan. Many of the projects in the plan have already started, were decided and consulted on seperately by the Council, or are part of a wider multi-year programme. They are also funded through our Capital Expenditure budget, not the current year's rates. Rates pays back the debt over time, including any interest and depreciation. Stopping a project might have an impact on future rates, but is unlikely to impact the current year.
Where can I find the Annual Plan document?
The Annual Plan engagement document is available from the document library on this website. It has information on the draft plan and you can provide feedback if you wish via the survey here. The final Annual Plan will be published on the Council website by the end of July. Plans, policies and bylaws - Annual Plans - Wellington City Council
What’s a targeted rate?
Targeted rates are paid by a specific group of ratepayers who receive a specific service - for example:
- water for properties connected to supply
- downtown targeted rate for commercial properties in the downtown area.
This Annual Plan we are proposing to introduce a new targeted rate for the Johnsonville Business Improvement District. These ratepayers will be contacted directly.
I have a great idea for the city – can we put new projects into the plan?
You can give your feedback and have your say on the Annual Plan via the survey or downloadable submission form on this website. However, all big changes to our plans or new projects will need to be done through the Long-term Plan. We review this 10-year plan every three years and are in the early stages of this process.
We heard that the rates rise was 12.8% and now it's 12.3%. What is the difference?
What is happening with the funding for fixing the pipes?
Is there an estimate of what the average sludge waste levy will be for households for the new Sludge Minimisation Plant?
The Sludge levy will commence in the 2024/25 year and therefore will have no impact on the 2023/24 Annual plan and rates
Are cycleways or Let's Get Wellington Moving affecting my rates?
Rates helps us pay back the debt from funding our upgrade projects like installing new cycleways or making the Let's Get Wellington Moving changes. However, we also receive a large amount of Central Government funding for these projects. For example, many of our cycleways receive 90 percent funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Transport Choices programme as part of the Government’s $350m investment to create greater transport choices for people across New Zealand. For Let's Get Wellington Moving, we only pay 20% of the costs. Another 20% is paid by other rate payers from the region and Central Government pays 60%.
How do property values impact rates?
The Council uses property values to allocate the rates we need to collect between all ratepayers – we don’t collect more rates just because capital values have increased and we don’t collect less rates if capital values have decreased.
Property revaluation doesn’t affect the amount of money we collect from rates – it helps us work out everyone’s share of rates.
Fees and Charges
What fees and user charges have increased?
Our Revenue and Financing policy guides our decisions on how to fund council services. We consider who benefits from a service (for example, individuals, parts of the community or the community as a whole) to help determine how the service should be funded.
The policy also sets the targets for each council activity, stating what proportion should be funded from user charges, general rates, targets rates and other sources of income.
As part of the proposed plan, we have reviewed our fees and charges and are proposing to change some fees and charges:
The following areas have material increases because of changes to existing Council policies or implementation of new policies. These changes were consulted on, and we are now seeking feedback on the proposed impact on fees in the following areas:
• Town Belts & Reserves – implementation of the Trading and Events in Public Places Policy
• Public health regulation – registration fee for Responsible dog owners, which has not been adjusted for several years
These two material fee increases are related to the rising costs to Council to offer the services in these two areas:
• Waste minimisation services – increased ETS costs and Waste Minimisation Act levy
• Building control and facilitation – alignment of some existing fees to new fee structure
We are also proposing new fees in the following areas to streamline some Council booking processes or to offer new services:
• Waterfront Public Spaces - multiple new fees relating to taking over management from Centreport
• Swimming pools – multiple new fees relating to pool party offerings
• Botanical gardens – including new picnic kits and hire rates for Bolton Cottage
• Sports fields – including a new sandcourt hire fee and hire rates for the Newton Park function room
• Recreation Centre – multiple new fees for booking Ākau Tangi Sport Centre sessions
• Marinas – fees for new services for boat pump-out and service outside license agreement
• Burials and Cremation – Ash Plots Makara extensions
• Public Health regulations – Parklet permissions
• Building Control & facilitation – New minor works fee, New LIM fast track option
We also have standard inflation increases proposed for the following areas:
• Encroachment licences
• Botanical gardens
• City Archives
• Waterfront public spaces
• Swimming pools
• Recreation centres
• Burials and cremations
• Public health regulations
• Building control and facilitation
• Development control and facilitation
• Sewerage collection and disposal
• Waste minimisation
More detail on the proposed fees can be found on our website: letstalk.wellington.govt.nz/annual-plan-2022-23
You can provide feedback on the fee increases through the Annual Plan submission form.
Why are responsible dog fees increasing?
To clarify, there are two fees for responsible dog ownership. The first is a one-time application fee, increasing from $62.50 to $132 to cover rising costs. The second is an annual registration fee increasing from $64.50 to $67 to adjust for inflation.