Long-Term Plan Consultation Opens Soon

5 April 2012

Wellington City Council has finalised its draft Long-Term Plan for public consultation.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the plan focuses on investing in Wellington's future.

"We are mindful of the current economic climate and significant immediate financial pressures - such as the need to fund earthquake strengthening work - nevertheless, it's important to invest in implementing the long-term strategic vision for the city set out in Wellington Towards 2040: Smart Capital." 

"The focus of our Long-Term Plan is on investing in the city's economy, ensuring the vibrancy and character of the CBD in particular, and supporting our diverse communities," she says.

Completing earthquake strengthening work on buildings, roads and the water network, as well as providing financial assistance for leaky homeowners, are a major focus for the next decade.

"We are proposing a frugal approach - balancing investment in the city and keeping rate rises as affordable as possible," says Mayor Wade-Brown.

The plan includes a proposed average rates increase of 4.1 percent. 

"In recognition of the need to keep rates affordable we will be consulting on an option to reduce asset renewal expenditure over the next 10 years." 

Through the draft long-term plan, the public will be asked to comment on whether the Council should consider reducing expenditure on asset renewals costs associated with roads, Council buildings, parks, sportsfields and other assets by up to $26 million over 10 years.  Asset renewal expenditure is the money the Council spends replacing existing assets. People will also be asked whether any savings should be used to either reduce rates or fund new projects.  If there is public acceptance that asset renewal expenditure should be reduced, this would result in a lower rates increase.

"We currently spend a large part of our budget on asset renewals and we want to ensure that our ratepayers are getting good value for money.  It's important that we find the right balance between exercising appropriate frugality with public funds without exposing ratepayers to unacceptable risks," she says.  

Consultation on a future governance structure for Zealandia, the zoo, the Botanic Garden and Otari-Wilton's Bush will be undertaken at the same time as the draft long-term plan. Four options have been put forward, including a preferred proposal to establish a new Council Controlled Organisation called Eco-City.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says that the Eco-City proposal could help to secure the future of these attractions and will allow Wellington to showcase its environmental assets and tell its ecological story. 

"Together these marvellous places tell Wellington's story of a capital city close to nature.  A unique attribute of Wellington is its close relationship with the natural environment.  Bringing the skills, knowledge and talents together from these facilities could provide an excellent base to enhance city biodiversity, maximise scientific and volunteer input, increase understanding of the interaction between humans and other species, grow the revenue of Zealandia and the zoo and minimise the cost to ratepayers."

Another significant issue that the Council will be seeking feedback on through the draft plan is a proposal to manage waste jointly with Porirua City Council in the future, which could generate efficiencies.

The plan includes a financial strategy which outlines future targets and limits for rates and borrowings.

Consultation opens on 16 April and closes on 18 May. The draft plan and submission forms will be available online and at Council libraries and our City Service Centre from 16 April.

Long Term Plan 2012/22 - Overview

Mayor Wade-Brown encourages all Wellingtonians to take part in the consultation.  "The Long-Term Plan consultation is the most important opportunity Wellingtonians will have in the next three years to have their say on our city's future.  We're looking forward to receiving ideas from the public."