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Thursday, 25 April 2019 04:09 pm

Spending argument lurks beneath surface of watery promises

VOTERS are awash with promises and arguments in the Hutt City mayoral race.

Swimming pools and water fountains have featured in populist promises by both candidates, incumbent David Ogden and challenger Ray Wallace.

They both want to replicate Petone’s Te Puna Wai Ora (Spring of Life) water fountain, pictured below, in other valley sites and both have policies on free swimming pool entry.

However, they diverge on major spending decisions.

David Ogden

David Ogden

Mr Ogden wants to keep money tucked away for a rainy day, and keep rates down, while Mr Wallace wants to splash out on revitalising the city.

Incumbent mayor David Ogden has focused his campaign on keeping rates at a minimum and investing in infrastructure and flood protection measures.

A chartered accountant, Mr Ogden is 66 and spent nine years as a councillor before being elected to the top job in 2004.

He has since taken credit for the clean-up of the Waiwhetu Stream and has seen more than $20 million invested into flood protection, a project he would like to continue overseeing.

If elected again he plans to focus on the maintenance, upgrade and building of new infrastructure, including pipes, storm water, flood protection and roading.

He appears to favour spreading the flood protection work over a longer period.

Mr Wallace has criticised the present regime for deferring some flood work until 2015 in an attempt to keep rates low.

FountainHe would prefer to see the work begin immediately.

He would also like to see money invested into making the Hutt City a more “vibrant and exciting place to live”.

Preserving heritage sites and introducing an arts development fund is also part of his focus to ensure positive investment in infrastructure and community facilities.

Ray Wallace

Ray Wallace

Mr Wallace, aged 48, was first elected to the council in 1995 and was deputy mayor under John Terris between 2001 and 2004.

If elected he hopes to initiate more events and festivals, encourage business growth, and to promote a safe city by increasing neighbour support groups, community patrols and stressing a zero tolerance for graffiti.

There is dispute over who originally came up with the idea of free access to city swimming pools.

Mr Ogden wants to open pools up to elderly Hutt residents but Mr Wallace extend the idea to discounts for children and families.

Providing free pool access to the elderly will cost the council $60,000 annually.

Other major spending acknowledged by both candidates includes a sewer pipeline and earthquake strengthening.

A new offshore sewer pipeline is proposed in the next five to 15 years following leaks from an existing pipeline.

Strengthening of the civic centre is expected to cost $23 million.

Enrolled voters will be able to vote by post, and should receive voting documents in the post between September 17 and September 22.

Voting closes on at midday on October 9, with official results to be announced in the week of October 11-15.

The Hutt area uses the voting system of first past the post, with the exception of the District Health Board which is elected under single transferable voting.

In the 2007 election, only 38% of registered voters in Hutt City took part in the election.

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is a Whitireia journalism student.
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