Feedback Sought for the Capital's Annual Plan

16 April 2013

For the next month, Wellingtonians have a chance to share their views on Wellington City Council’s 2013/14 Draft Annual Plan. The Plan proposes several new initiatives to help ensure the Capital remains one of the world’s most liveable cities – and affordable.

The consultation is running from today (16 April) until Tuesday 16 May. If approved, the Plan would see a $9 million reduction in Council spending compared to the 2012-22 Long-term Plan – keeping the average rates rise to 2.8%.

Proposed projects aim to boost the Capital’s economy by targeting the city’s strengths. They include a Capital Education Initiative to bring more students to Wellington, initiating work on the processional route from Memorial Park to Parliament and revitalising Civic Square, and a range of recreational and business growth schemes. Details are summarised below.

The Council’s Community Engagement Portfolio Leader, Councillor Paul Eagle, encourages Wellingtonians to find out more about the Draft Annual Plan at public meetings being held across the five council wards. “The first meeting is in Johnsonville tonight and there will be opportunities for residents from across the city to find out more about what’s proposed in the Plan. Come along to ask questions or make comments face-to-face with the Mayor and Councillors,” he says.

The meetings will also cover options for local government reform and people are welcome to attend one or both briefings.

For full details of the Draft Annual Plan, and how to have your say, see:

Draft Annual Plan 2013/14

For information about the ward meetings, see:

Regional Governance Review

Summary of key proposals

Key projects already in the budget for next year include:

  • Destination Wellington – a programme to attract business, talent and investment to the region, jointly run by Positively Wellington Tourism, Grow Wellington and the City Council – $1.9 million is budgeted.
  • National War Memorial Park – the Council has been working with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and NZTA on this project and is contributing $5 million.
  • Our Living City – Council staff are aligning existing activities and reprioritising budgets to achieve our strategic objectives and improve our urban-nature connections under this work programme. This includes a number of initiatives such as the ‘Two Million Trees’ project and partnerships with Victoria University and others.

Increased investment is proposed in the following areas:

  • Smart Energy Capital – to show leadership around smart, healthy and energy-efficient homes, energy efficiency in the commercial sector, increased renewable generation and developing a Smart Grid pilot. The initiative requires matching dollars from external sources, to a maximum of $250,000 per annum.
  • Proactive management of the Council’s Built Heritage Fund – targeting heritage building owners who would benefit most from earthquake strengthening – $40,000 for additional staff resource.
  • ‘Greening’ of Taranaki Street – landscaping, paving and lighting this major road which forms part of the processional route from Parliament to Government House. $150,000 for design and engagement.
  • Civic Square revitalisation study – seismic issues for Capital E, the pending demolition of the Portico and maintenance issues mean a revamp of access routes and usage is important for the civic heart ($150,000).
  • Miramar Peninsula Framework – developing a long-term plan to guide future development, especially around Shelly Bay and the northern part of the peninsula ($50,000).
  • Capital Education Initiative – facilitating visits from schools outside the Wellington region ($60,000 to implement recommendations from the Wellington Museums Trust).
  • Safer speed limits in the CBD – consulting on possible speed reductions to 30 or 40 km/h ($40,000 for consultation).
  • An investigation into making the city’s playgrounds more accessible for children with disabilities.
  • Waterfront development – views are sought on three opportunities, with funding to be sourced by Wellington Waterfront Ltd (upgrading the children’s playground, providing a base for Crocodile Bikes, and improving water-based recreation facilities).
  • Clyde Quay Marina – feasibility funding for technical studies for the proposed marina upgrade ($205,000).
  • Zealandia – increasing its operating grant to support the work of the new board ($175,000).

As this is the second year of the 2012–22 Long-Term Plan (adopted in June last year), significant changes to the Council’s programmes are not planned. The $9 million spending reduction has been made possible by a major drive for the Council to work smarter and reduce its internal operating costs. Around $11.4 million in savings and efficiencies were identified – once cost increases, new initiatives from the Draft Annual Plan process and further savings are factored in, the $9 million net figure is reached.

Some modest changes to service levels are proposed in order to help make savings and achieve the Council’s target level of rate rise. The community will be asked for feedback on these. They include:

  • making closing hours at smaller branch libraries consistent ($22,600) and reducing the opening hours at Khandallah Library ($23,400)
  • changes to the Leisure Card scheme ($75,000)
  • reducing funding for hazardous tree removal ($100,000)
  • rescheduling funding for the demolition of the Patent Slip Jetty ($100,000)
  • reducing grants to the Zoo Trust (by 3%, or $84,000) and Positively Wellington Tourism (by 3%, or $140,000).

Opportunities for increased income have also been identified and will be included in the consultation. These are:

  • introducing pay and display parking at the Botanic Garden car park on weekdays with the net income going directly to the Botanic Garden ($32,400)
  • introducing parking charges at Freyberg Pool, with net income going back into the facility ($72,000)
  • changing the operating model of the crèche at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre ($40,000)
  • introducing paid permits for taxis using taxi stands ($200,000).

A range of fees and charges would also change as part of the proposed plan. Because many services are supported by rates, modest increases are proposed in some fees to avoid a higher rate rise. These include fee increases for the landfill, general admission and swim memberships at pools, some burial and cremation and public health areas and water charges. Concessions for eligible people remain.