Wellington Town Hall is to be earthquake-strengthened
The draft long-term plan guides how we spend money over the next 10 years and the projects we will prioritise during this time. This in turn affects how rates are set in future years.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says she expects the Better Local Government programme, announced by the Government last week, to boost interest in the draft long-term plan.
"I hope Wellingtonians will take the opportunity to tell us what they think about the Council' s direction - especially in light of frugality and strategic direction."
The Mayor and Councillors met for several days earlier this month to decide what spending should be recommended in the draft plan. Our focus is on fulfilling the strategic direction of Wellington Towards 2040: Smart Capital, and supporting projects that make the city safer and more resilient.
The Council is proposing the adoption of rates targets and rates limits set out in a new financial strategy. The rates target and limit for the 2012/13 year is 3.8 percent. In later years, the aim is to reduce the rates target so that by 2014/15 it is at the level of household inflation.
Mayor Wade-Brown says she is confident the Council will meet the 3.8 percent rates target. In the meantime, staff have been asked to report back on the potential to reduce about $1 billion of infrastructure replacement costs by up to $100 million over 10 years.
"Notwithstanding the fact the Government has put the spotlight on council spending and rate rises across the country, we are already acutely aware of the need to keep spending under control.
"We're operating in an extraordinary set of circumstances: a global recession, rising asset ownership costs and an immediate need to focus on earthquake resilience; these have created significant pressure on our budget. Decisions have been made not to fund a number of projects such as the completion of the western link road in Johnsonville or to delay others such as the widening and landscaping of Adelaide Road.
Mayor Wade-Brown says the Christchurch earthquake highlighted how important it is to strengthen our buildings and infrastructure. "We can't compromise safety and this work is a priority for the city." Almost $48 million has been included in the plan for earthquake strengthening of Council-owned public buildings over the next decade, including work on the Town Hall.
"We want to use the draft long-term plan to gauge how much support the public think we should provide to Te Papa, and for initiatives in the central city like the transformation of Opera House Lane," she says.
Other projects in the draft plan include funding for Johnsonville - an area likely to experience a jump in population growth - to invest in a new library. "Community facilities support a people-centred city," says the Mayor.
Councillors meet again on Tuesday 3 April to finalise the draft long-term plan.
A financial sustainability working party of councillors has also been established to review the Council's spending and services and carry out a strategic review of the way it does business. The group will look at services, including alternative service models, and potential income-generating opportunities.
Public consultation on the draft long-term plan will start on 16 April and continue until 18 May.