The plan sets out the Council's activities over the next 10 years, and has a focus on growing the city's economy, improving our earthquake resilience, investing in projects that enhance Wellingtonians' quality of life and balancing the Council's budget.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the Long-Term Plan consultation has delivered a great result for Wellingtonians, and affirmed the city's vision to be a global Smart Capital in the year 2040.
"We asked people to tell us what they thought of the draft plan and we received over 2600 submissions - a record number. We've listened to the issues people have raised and have added in additional funding for a range of projects, including Te Papa, the SPCA Chest Hospital project and Miramar Town Centre.
"We are pleased to be able to fund a range of activities that people asked us to support in submissions, while at the same time reducing the level of rates for next year from what we originally proposed," she says.
Savings have been identified through the work of the Financial Sustainability Working Party, chaired by the Mayor, which has identified that the level of funding set aside for the replacement of non-critical assets could be reduced. This creates a saving of around $4 million per year.
The working party has also identified other savings and will continue to look for ways to enable the Council to reduce its spending and increase its income over the next year, and to identify funding for projects that will benefit the city.
The Long-Term Plan includes funding for the following projects:
- over $67 million to strengthen Council buildings and the water network, assist owners of heritage buildings, and a further $12.7 million to strengthen tunnels and bridges
- investment in economic development initiatives such as a programme to attract investment and new business to Wellington and the continuation of an Australian marketing programme, as well as funding for The Hobbit premiere and the FIFA under-20 men's championships
- continued funding of Te Papa at $2.25 million a year
- investment in community facilities, including a replacement library for Johnsonville, the upgrading of Aro Valley and Newtown community centres and Strathmore Community Base, and $5.2 million for the development of three new artificial sportsfields: one at Alex Moore Park, one in the Grenada North or Tawa area, and another in the western suburbs
- funding to strengthen and renovate the Chest Hospital so the SPCA can relocate its operations there. The $900,000 project is jointly funded by the Council and the SPCA
- investment in road safety initiatives and improvements to the roading network in Johnsonville to cope with additional traffic when the mall expansion occurs, and new cycleways
- funding of $10.7 million for the development of public spaces in the city centre, including the development of a new park.
Rates for next year will increase on average by 3.6 percent (taking into account growth in the city's ratepayer base), down from the 4.1 percent increase initially proposed. Projected rate increases in later years vary from 0.8 percent to 4.1 percent.
Councillors agreed to keep encroachment fees at a flat rate, adjusted for inflation, but also to review the Council's encroachment policy over the next 12 months. Encroachment fees are used to recover rentals from private property owners who use Council road reserve.
The Long-Term Plan was last night issued an unqualified audit opinion by Audit New Zealand, which confirmed that the Council had complied with all of the requirements in the Local Government Act. Audit New Zealand also found that the Council's financial strategy was financially prudent, that the plan provided the community with balanced information about the key issues the city is facing and that it included reasonable assumptions based on the best estimates available to the Council.