Annual Report profiles a positive Capital City

24 September 2016

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says it has been a privilege to lead the Capital for the past six years and that Wellington is now an even more progressive, smart and diverse city, which is flourishing and growing.

Commenting as Wellington City Council’s 2015-16 Annual Report was made public yesterday, Mayor Wade-Brown says the Capital City economy was “sluggish” when she was first elected Mayor in 2010, partly due to the Global Financial Crisis. However, hard work by Wellingtonians over the past six years gives great cause for optimism about the city’s future.

For details of the 2015-16 Annual Report, see: Governance, Finance and Planning Committee Agenda - 28.09.16 (33MB PDF)

The Council has reported a $6 million surplus for the 2015-16 year which will be carried forward to offset future costs. “Our vision for Wellington has to be complemented by a Council organisation that delivers high-quality and value for money services and this is being achieved,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

“All the signs are good, our core service delivery is sector-leading and at the same time we have created the necessary financial headroom to deliver value-add projects such as the Convention Centre and Film Museum.”

Cr Justin Lester, Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Council’s Governance, Finance and Planning Committee, says the report profiles a positive year for the city. “The Council lived within its means while delivering over 400 different services to residents and visitors every day.

“Nine kilometres of water mains were replaced in the northern and western suburbs, 4.3 km of wastewater mains and 750 m of stormwater mains were also replaced. 59.1 km of roads were resurfaced, while 22 km of footpaths, 11.5 km of kerb-and-channel and 7.5 km of handrails were renewed, 250 seats, 175 litter bins, 30 bollards and 50 cycle racks were installed or refurbished – this is our core business and the organisation is delivering.”

Cr Mark Peck, Chair of the Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee, which approved the Annual Report earlier this week, described the Council’s financial performance and its approach to debt management as prudent.

Cr Peck says the Annual Report shows the Council’s financial position remains strong. “The Council retains its AA credit rating and, for the first time, Standard and Poor’s has formally acknowledged that the Council’s credit rating would be AA+. The AA+ rating cannot be awarded as the Council’s rating cannot be higher than the Crown’s – but this is indeed high praise.”

Mayor Wade-Brown stresses the Annual Report is a balanced scorecard. She says it does contain a number of ‘red dot’ issues that have challenged the Council and the city.

One such issue is around Council decisionmaking, with 59% of residents satisfied with their involvement in Council decision making, against a target of 75%.

“The Council and its other city partners have consulted on a huge number of significant issues over the last few years – the Movie Museum, Frank Kitts Park, housing density, transport and the urban cycle network and individual routes – which are sometimes controversial. We have learnt from these consultations and moved to a more inclusive process.”

Another ‘red dot’ issue relates to lower than expected usage of the city’s new artificial-turf sportsfields. Mayor Wade-Brown says the Council is already looking at the issue – and whether hireage fees, or other factors, are behind the drop in usage.

Some points of note from the Annual Report:

  • The Council continued to deliver value for money – providing our vast array of services for a rates cost of just $6.05 per resident per day.
  • Net borrowings stood at $396.5 million, $19.5m below budget – an increase of $28.7 million from 2014-15. The borrowing is less than 82% of the Council’s annual revenue, equivalent to a household with a property value of $570,000 earning $70,000 a year having a mortgage of less than $57,000.
  • Significant progress was achieved in the Council’s Odyssey IT upgrade programme with replacement of the asset, finance and payroll systems.
  • 18 million CBD Free wi-fi logons were recorded.
  • Wellington continues to be New Zealand’s arts, culture and events capital. Last July, we celebrated 150 years of Wellington being the Capital City with our Open House weekend and a concert and light show at Parliament. We reflected on World War One through our continuing WW100 commemorations. The New Zealand Festival and the Edinburgh Tattoo together attracted over 100,000 visitors and generated $60 million of new spending from outside the region. We worked with New Zealand Rugby to make sure the Sevens Rugby Tournament stayed in Wellington. Events included Summer City, Diwali, Korean Festival, Pasifika and Matariki and the second CubaDupa highlighted our upgraded laneways.
  • Mayor Wade-Brown says she is personally very proud of securing Wellington’s membership of the 100 Resilient Cities programme. “With that additional focus we, and our partners, have continued to make Wellington’s resilience to acute shocks and chronic stresses a high priority.” The Council also appointed a Chief Resilience Officer.
  • Wellington Water completed the new 2.2 million-litre Melrose reservoir, quake-strengthened the Linden reservoir and awarded a tender for the strengthening of the Tawa reservoir. Three new 25,000-litre emergency water tanks were installed – increasing the total number of such tanks around the city to 38.
  • The Council’s contact centre handled 290,000 phone calls, received 21,000 emails and 12,300 FixIt texts.