This is the beginning of the process that will set the Council's activities and budgets for the coming financial year (1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011). It will determine what Wellingtonians pay in rates in the coming financial year, what new projects are approved and any changes to fees and charges.
Mayor Kerry Prendergast says the Council will be working hard to keep the average real rates increase to about 3 percent – well below the 5.88 percent increase forecast for the 2010/11 financial year in the Council's Long-Term Council Community Plan.
"The aim will be to maintain the breadth of services the Council provides at current levels, retain the city's vibrant character and keep the rates increase as low as possible," she says. "There are positive signs that the economy is improving but we know that many people and businesses are continuing to feel the affects of the tougher conditions experienced over the past year."
The draft annual plan is based on year two of the long-term plan, which was agreed last year following extensive community consultation. It will include some proposed new initiatives and other changes, several of which would help ensure the city is well prepared for Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC). Tens of thousands of visitors are expected during the tournament and it could be worth around $45 million to the region.
Among other things, the Council is proposing to spend $150,000 leasing the new Wharewaka, which is under construction on the waterfront, and setting it up as the base for the World Rugby Village. The city committed to creating such a village as part of its successful bid to host matches and the Wharewaka would provide a unique base and cultural dimension. It has a large area for team powhiri and functions, a café, commercial kitchen and space for an information / visitor centre and outlet to sell RWC merchandise.
The Council is also proposing that improvements to Waterloo Quay between Kings Wharf and Aotea Quay be carried out sooner than originally planned and budgeted so that we can improve the look of the area and pedestrian access to cruise ships and the stadium ahead of the RWC.
Replacing the existing public toilets in Courtenay Place to better meet the needs in this part of the city and spending more each year to keep central city streets cleaner, are other draft plan proposals that will be under consideration next week.
The Council will also be considering possible spending proposed as part of the draft Climate Change Action Plan and draft Community Facilities Policy and Implementation Plan.
This includes funding to help the city plan and prepare for the impacts of climate change – including rising sea level, increased erosion, slips and flooding – and energy efficiency programmes for the Council, residents and businesses. Funding for planning work associated with proposed swimming pool upgrades and a feasibility study for a possible new library for Johnsonville will also be considered.
The draft annual plan will be debated and finalised for consultation at a Council meeting at 5.30pm on Wednesday 17 March.
Wellingtonians will get an opportunity to have their say on the draft plan from Friday 9 April to Monday 10 May. People with an interest will also be able to make submissions on the Council's draft Climate Change Action Plan, draft Community Facilities Policy and implementation plans and proposed citywide liquor ban, which will all be open for feedback at the same time. The draft Community Facilities Policy and implementation plans will detail proposed changes to the city's libraries, community centres and swimming pools over the next 10 years.
As part of the city's long-term plan, the Council last year agreed to allocate $11 million to pool development over the next 10 years. To help meet the growth in demand at the city's swimming pools, City Councillors will this year consider getting all of that development work done over the next four years. At this stage the work recommended includes:
- a new teaching pool at Karori Pool for the Learn to Swim programme
- a new teaching and hydrotherapy pool and waterplay area at Keith Spry Pool in Johnsonville
- a new hydrotherapy pool at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre (WRAC) - this will allow the existing shared teaching and hydrotherapy pool to be used exclusively for Learn to Swim
- a new roof and insulation for Tawa Pool
- the installation of a retractable roof at Thorndon Summer Pool - making it usable all year round.
Two million of that $11 million might also become a fund to encourage schools to keep or renew their existing pools. The Council will also discuss ways to manage the pool space we have more efficiently. This would help the Learn to Swim programme and make more space for swim clubs but is likely to mean some changes in where and when people can do casual lane swimming.
The DAP deliberations will be held in:
- Committee Room One
- Tuesday 2 March (9.15am to approximately 12.30pm) and Wednesday 3 March (9.15am to 4pm).
Deliberations will continue on Thursday if necessary.