Smart Energy for a Smart Capital

13 June 2013

Wellington City Councillors today recommended the 2013/14 Annual Plan to Council, anticipating a rates rise of less than 2.8 percent.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says we are getting on with Council’s Wellington Towards 2040: Smart Capital vision.

“This plan aligns our economy with Wellington’s great quality of life, strengthens our buildings and infrastructure, and invests in a good range of events and programmes,” she says.

One of the key components of the plan is the provision of $250,000 funding to support a range of smart energy initiatives.

Funding for the initiative is based on the Council receiving at least dollar-for-dollar funding from sources other than rates. Projects must result in benefits such as reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, implementation of distributed generation by homes and businesses, and bring benefits such as health or economic development.

Areas of focus will primarily be: smart, healthy homes; solar and other forms of renewable energy; and smart grid, demand management and innovation.

 “The Smart Energy Capital initiative received incredibly positive feedback from the Draft Annual Plan submission questionnaire and residents’ survey,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

“We’re increasing funding for cycling in response to clear public demand, and supporting Orchestra Wellington as a foundation stone in our Arts Capital that underpins ballet and opera performances as well as music in its own right.”

The recommendation to Council is for a rates rise under 2.8 percent and there may be minor changes before Council confirms the 2013/14 Annual Plan on 27 June.

Councillors also approved $250,000 in 2013/14 to implement a Living Wage framework, which is to be developed and then presented back to Councillors in November.

Key initiatives recommended to Council include:

  • Cycling network – $250,000 operating expenditure to consult interested and affected communities, explore possible improvement options and develop a programme of works that delivers a ‘cycling brand’ to Wellington, and $250,000 capital expenditure for construction design work for agreed enhancements to cycleways. 
  • Orchestra Wellington – an increased grant in 2013/14 and 2014/15 ($112,000 per annum increase to existing grant, from the Cultural Grants pool).
  • Lombard Lane – $150,000 to work with the developer of the site bordered by Manners, Victoria and Bond streets to enhance the public spaces of Lombard Lane and Denton Park. Funding would cover design, feasibility, costing and legal work.
  • Built Heritage Incentive Fund – increased for 2013/14 from $329,000 to $400,000 (see also ‘New initiatives’ below regarding proactive management of the fund).
  • Earthquake strengthening programme – a revised programme of work including a cost increase for Town Hall strengthening – but staying within the overall budget set in the Long-term Plan.

Council staff found $14.1 million in savings as part of the annual plan process.

Summary of other key points:

New initiatives

(Investment as outlined in the Draft Annual Plan)

  • Proactive management of the Built Heritage Incentive Fund $40,000 (as consulted on)
  • Greening of Taranaki Street $150,000
  • Civic Square Review $150,000
  • Miramar Peninsula Framework $50,000
  • Capital Education Initiative $60,000
  • Safer speed limit in the CBD $40,000
  • Clyde Quay Marina $205,000
  • Zealandia funding increase $175,000

A range of upgrades on the waterfront will also be included under year two of the Waterfront Development Plan.

Savings identified

(Savings as outlined in the Draft Annual Plan)

  • Changes to the Leisure Card scheme $75,000
  • Hazardous tree removals $100,000
  • Patent Slip Jetty $100,000
  • Wellington Zoo Trust $84,000
  • Positively Wellington Tourism $140,000

Moderate changes were targeted at areas where the impact on users and the Council’s strategic priorities would be minimised.

New sources of income

(New income as outlined in the Draft Annual Plan)

  • Introduction of car parking charges at Freyberg Pool while retaining a free parking area for some users of the facility (generating income of $60,000 per annum with a one off $20,000 capex spend)
  • Changes to the operating model of the crèche at Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre (generating $40,000 per annum)

Increases to fees and charges

As outlined in the Draft Annual Plan, a range of fees and charges will increase in order 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.