“This draft is ambitious, and it centres on the much-needed investment in our infrastructure that our city has been crying out for, and on solving resilience issues,” he explains. “It is investment we need to underpin a modern, dynamic, creative, sustainable city.
“The capital programme is our largest to date, representing a $400 million greater investment than our last Long-term Plan, and this in turn will increase Council debt levels. This does not include the additional $580 million off-balance sheet responses for funding sludge treatment and city housing.
“We are proposing to lift our debt limit from the current 175% of debt to revenue to 225%. We consider this a prudent level because we must maintain borrowing headroom for known but currently unbudgeted investment needs, and for events that are unexpected, such as an earthquake or pandemic.”
This plan sets the direction for the next 10 years, outlines what will be invested in, how much it may cost and how it will be funded. It provides guidance on how Council will make Wellington an even better place to live, work, play and visit as we go into the future.
The plan asks Wellingtonians for feedback on seven key areas:
- Investment in Council’s three waters infrastructure
- Wastewater laterals (the pipes connecting property to the water main underneath the road corridor)
- Funding for cycleway networks
- How to fund our commitment to reducing emissions through Te Atakura – First to Zero
- Te Ngākau Civic Square funding for future work, especially on the Municipal Office Buildings and Civic Administration Building
- How we will fund the repair and upgrade of the Central Library
- How we will reduce our dependence on pumping sludge across the city to the landfill and reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill.
Meeting the preferred options in the plan will require an average rates increase of 13.5% in the first year, and an average of 9.9% over the first three years. This equates to an average rates increase of 5.3% (after growth) across the 10 years of the plan.
The Office of the Auditor General has given a qualified opinion on the draft consultation document, which relates to uncertainty around the condition of our water infrastructure and also around the sustainability of city housing solutions.
These issues don’t come as any surprise to Mayor Foster. “We have known for some time that solutions are needed for the financial sustainability of our city housing programme, and the lack of knowledge around infrastructure was identified by the 3 Waters Mayoral Taskforce,” he adds. “The budget provides for Wellington Water to address this through an enhanced condition assessment programme.”
Deputy Mayor Sarah Free encourages people to come and talk about the major issues facing our city. “We have a number of opportunities for Wellingtonians to give us feedback in person, including two expos at Te Papa and a series of community pop-up events,” she says. “The more people we speak to, the better informed the final plan will be, and the better equipped Wellington will be to meet the demands of the next 10 years.”
The schedule is available on the Let’s Talk Wellington website in the Long-term Plan section.
It's important that Wellingtonians have their say on these proposals. People can have their say from 6 April to 10 May./p>