Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says Wellington City Council's Long-Term Plan consultation has been a huge success, attracting a record number of public submissions and contributions, delivering additional funding for key community assets while keeping the rates rise low, as Councillors today concluded their deliberations on the plan.
"We've achieved a great result on three distinct levels," says Mayor Wade-Brown.
"There has been a wide-ranging and successful consultation process where over 2600 submissions were received on a broad range of important topics and over 1600 submissions on Zealandia.
"We've kept the rates rise low, reducing rates from an initial average of 4.1 percent to around 3.5 percent.
"And we've listened closely and been able to deliver additional funding for Te Papa, Miramar and Kilbirnie town centres, a partnership with the SPCA to progress the Chest Hospital project, and other projects we see bringing significant benefits to the city.
"What is particularly exciting is that the projects we've supported are all intrinsic to the strategic vision of Wellington 2040: Smart Capital, providing for a city where talent wants to live, work and play."
"They include city resilience and economic development projects, cultural grants, the development of cycle routes, improvements to public space in the central city and improved management of water networks to improve the health of our harbour and streams."
"This budget includes immediate investment to diversify and set Wellington's economy on a positive path."
Other issues raised in a large number of submissions include: encroachment fees, an aquatic extension to the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre, funding for Clyde Quay and opposition to the sale of Vogelmorn Hall.
In response the Strategy and Policy Committee has agreed to make a number of changes to the final plan including:
- returning funding for Te Papa to $2.25 million.
- adding in funding for earthquake strengthening and renovation work on the Chest Hospital so that the SPCA can relocate there. The SPCA will fund over half the cost of the $900,000 project.
- providing $525,000 in capital expenditure in 2014/15 for stage two of the Kilbirnie town centre upgrade, and $900,000 for an upgrade to the Miramar town centre next year.
- bringing forward funding to upgrade roads in the Johnsonville town centre to meet the demands of the expansion of the Johnsonville Shopping Mall.
- allocating $200,000 per year to support work to attract long-haul flight routes into Wellington.
The Council also agreed to revise its encroachment policy, which is used to recover rentals from property owners who make use of Council road reserve, to reduce fees by 10% and allow property owners to provide alternative valuations. Officers will also report to the Council on the introduction of encroachment remissions.
The Council agreed not to allocate funding in the plan for a new deep water pool at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre, but has directed officers to work with supporters of the project to look at alternative funding sources, and report back to the Council in December.
Following a number of submissions, Councillors also agreed to defer any decision on Vogelmorn Hall and carry out further consultation with the community on options for the future of the hall.
Additional projects are able to be funded as significant cost savings have been identified by the Councillor-led Financial Sustainability working party. The Mayor chairs the group, which has identified that around $4 million in savings can be made by not funding the depreciation on about 5% of the city's assets. This will result in reduced expenditure on renewing assets and will allow the Council to reduce rate levels.
Rates are not yet finalised as Councillors still have to consider and agree on funding for a replacement venue to the Town Hall, which requires earthquake strengthening. They will do this at a meeting on 21 June. The final version of the Long-Term Plan is expected to be adopted by the Council on 27 June.
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