Planning for Tough Times

11 April 2011

It's draft Annual Plan time - the time when we ask for your feedback on our proposed budget for the next financial year (2011/2012).

We're proposing a new pool complex at Kilbirnie

We're proposing a new pool complex at Kilbirnie

It's no secret we face a number of pressures in the preparation of next year's budget - a subdued economy, our leaky homes liability, significant increases in the cost of materials - including oil based products such as bitumen and fuel - interest and depreciation costs on Council assets and the potential economic impact of the Canterbury earthquake.

In response, we've adopted what we believe is a balanced approach, one that plans for the future, strengthens Wellington's infrastructure and delivers affordable rates.

We're proposing modest service cuts - ensuring the rates increase is more affordable - while continuing to invest in infrastructure and maintaining the wide range of essential services we provide every day.

This approach, if approved, will mean an average rates increase of 4.4 percent.

On average, the rates increase for homeowners will be about 6.2 percent, while the impact on the city's commercial sector will be 1.2 percent. The difference in rates is the result of taking the final step in honouring a commitment made 10 years ago to bring down the general rates differential - the difference in the rates share shouldered by commercial and residential ratepayers - from 7.1:1 to 2.8:1.

We've been gradually closing the differential gap since 2000/01.

But we are at the draft stage only. We want to know what you think. We encourage you to tell us whether we're making the right savings and changes to our services, whether we've gone far enough, or if you think we need to find savings in other areas.

Despite difficult economic times, we think it's important to continue to invest in our city so it remains a great place to live, learn, work, and play.

A key area of focus for the coming year is investing in critical infrastructure. That's why we intend to spend $22 million upgrading the city's water, stormwater and wastewater network, including the building of new quake-resilient reservoirs at Messines Road in Karori and Prince of Wales Park in Mount Cook.

And under a programme we began 15 years ago, old water pipes will continue to be replaced with quake-resilient materials.

Mayor Wade-Brown says it's important that we improve the resilience of our network of water pipes, "so that we as a city are better prepared to cope with and recover from a significant earthquake".

The draft Annual Plan is also about planning for the future and one of the challenges we face is the demand for swimming pool space to accommodate a diverse range of aquatic activities.

Therefore we propose to spend $650,000 on a feasibility and design study for the construction of a new deepwater swimming pool complex - big enough to attract international events - at Kilbirnie.

In the next financial year we propose to spend $134 million providing everyday services like waste management and recycling, running facilities including libraries, swimming pools, recreation centres, community centres and sportsfields and caring for our Town Belt and outdoor areas.

That's a snapshot of what we're proposing to do. Now it's your turn. Tell us what you want for Wellington and how we should pay for it.

Draft 2011/12 Annual Plan