Successfully managing a growing city

By: Blogger

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris

Our population has reached 135,000, and is growing at 2.5 per cent a year. The good news for home owners is that demand keeps increasing house values and, even though around 1200 new homes were built last year, the average house price has reached $700,000.

The bad news is that, on Tauranga wages, it now takes nine years of a whole household income to purchase the average home.

New Zealand has been a property-owning democracy, but with homeownership rates declining to below 65 per cent, it’s right to say we have a housing crisis.

Many rely on downsizing a mortgage-free family home to provide additional retirement income, but with an increasing number of seniors renting or still having a mortgage after the age of 65, there’s a significant and growing part of our population more vulnerable to financial shocks.

Allowing the creation of good quality, affordable housing is a challenge that requires backbone from politicians in both councils and government, because few residents want such developments in their backyard.

Employment has outstripped population growth at 4.6 per cent, but on the downside so has traffic, with a 3.9 per cent increase. The $70m that council and NZTA spent on transport last year isn’t sufficient to keep up and the public know it.

That’s why I suggested last week that we could transfer $35m from a new downtown library to four lanes on 15th Avenue/Turret Road instead. Debt has begun to increase again to $348m, but so has council’s annual income, to $210m.

Council’s main challenge continues to be managing a growing city successfully.