WE PLAN IN THREE-YEAR CYCLESThe Local Government Act 2002 requires us to plan in three-year cycles. Every three years, we consult the community on a draft long-term plan. This sets out our intentions for the decade ahead — what we’ll do, how we’ll do it, how much we’ll spend, who will pay, the levels of service we’ll provide, and how we’ll measure the quality and effectiveness of our work. Our last long-term plan was adopted in 2012; our next will be prepared in the coming year.
In between these long-term plans, we take a fresh look each year at our work programme and consider whether any changes are needed. Change may be needed due to revisions to our budgets or new projects to help deal with issues or challenges facing the city. We publish a draft annual plan and listen to your feedback before publishing an annual plan — this document.
The Annual Plan
Our job is to look after Wellington, now and into the future
So, how do we decide what to do?
It’s a simple question with a complex answer. To develop the programme set out in this Annual Plan, we’ve considered a range of factors. We’ve sought to enhance Wellington and its people. We’ve taken into account community expectations, what we know about the state of the city and its services, what we know about future challenges the city is likely to face, and the aspirations we’ve signed up to as part of our economic growth agenda.
The need to meet all of our legal obligations, and ensure prudent management of the city’s finances and assets has also guided our decisions.
We’ve set in place clear goals
Our vision is of a Smart Capital, an inclusive city where talent wants to live. We aim to lift the quality of life on offer in the city by sustaining a culture that is open minded, enhancing the city centre, facilitating the provision of virtual and physical infrastructure, and bolstering the local economy for a lower-carbon future and greater prosperity.
Everything we do contributes to one or more of these outcomes:
- Governance: our work aims to deliver trust and confidence in decision-making. An effective and decisive organisation is, after all, more likely to engage others and attract partners.
- Environment: we act as a guardian and regulator of the local natural environment.
- Economic development: we aim to provide the conditions for growth by advancing the city’s competitive advantages.
- Cultural wellbeing: diversity is a feature of urban life – communities, like Wellington, that embrace this as part of their cultural identity will flourish.
- Social and recreation: we provide services that aim to sustain safe, resilient, and active communities.
- Urban development: we preserve Wellington as a compact, vibrant, and attractive city now and into the future.
- Transport: our aim is to deliver an efficient and safe transport system that connects people and places.
See the 2014/15 Activity Programme for more detail.
We’re keeping a lid on costs…
This Annual Plan represents value for money. Take the rates of $2,281 on a $500,000 house. These are less than the average household pays for a single utility — power. Our entire services for the city cost around $2029 per resident per year.
This has been achieved by continuously reviewing the costs of our services. As an example, we have reviewed the governance structures for some of our council-controlled organisations. We have decided to bring the functions of Wellington Waterfront Ltd in-house and are combining Positively Wellington Tourism and Wellington Venues. We expect this to save around $500,000 per annum.
The overall budget sits within the targets that we have set in place in our Financial Strategy. This sees rates increases capped and sets out the levels of borrowing that are considered prudent. (See the Our Finances section for more details.)
… and we’re keeping the city running
This year’s plan sustains the high levels of service that are already in place. We have even increased the budget in some areas to meet cost increases or other pressures:
Our Capital Spaces: a framework to develop, promote and prioritise investment in the city’s open spaces and outdoor recreation facilities receives the following boost:
- Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park: $28,000 in capital expenditure and $40,000 in operating expenditure
- Open Space Access (tracks and walkways): $150,000 in capital expenditure
- community planting and pest control: $75,800 in operating expenditure
- Project Halo partnership project: $47,000 to support backyard biodiversity in a buffer zone around Zealandia and pest control in the adjoining rural area
- signage at parks and reserves: $20,000 in operating expenditure
- promotion of Wellington as a premier mountain biking destination: $30,000 in operating expenditure.
Storm damage: to undertake remedial works following the severe storm in June 2013, we have budgeted:
- an additional $973,000 in capital expenditure including $847,000 for seawalls and seashore defensive structures
- an additional $262,000 in operating expenditure including $100,000 to remove ageing pines in the Town Belt.
Libraries – children’s literacy and outreach: we have agreed to increase our libraries’ budget by $60,000 to reinstate our children’s literacy programmes, and for customer service and collection refreshment.
Newtown community hub: we will bring forward $40,000 in operating expenditure funding from 2016/17 to 2014/15 to start feasibility work on a community hub/centre for Newtown.
Rural road improvements: in response to a request from the Makara-Ohariu Community Board, we have agreed to allocate $100,000 in capital expenditure for minor safety initiatives on rural roads in Ohariu and Makara.
See the other changes noted in the ‘public feedback’ section (page 13).
We’ve also chosen to lift our performance in key areas
Cycling: the ease, reliability and affordability of a transport network are important to a city’s success.
Wellington on the whole does well in this regard – it has the highest public transport use in the country, more people cycling and walking, and a reducing reliance on cars for commuting – there is nevertheless room for improvement. A focus in the coming year will be on cycling.
The capital budget has been increased by $3 million to $4.3 million. The focus will be on safety and improving key routes.
Living wage rate: the Council has agreed to introduce a living wage rate ($18.40 per hour minimum) for its directly employed staff as part of a broader workforce development plan. An engaged workforce, after all, results in more effective service delivery.
Development contributions: a growing property market is good for the city. It stimulates investments, creates jobs, and adds to the city’s long-term viability. The way we regulate development can impact on the level of investment being made. We have made policy changes to encourage development of quality buildings, reduce compliance costs and improve the efficiency of our processes. (See the appendix for more details.)
Earthquake strengthening: the city has an extensive resilience programme. This covers everything from retaining walls to educational programmes, emergency preparedness, research programmes with the United Nations and local universities, and grants for heritage protection. From 1 July 2014, we will be widening the rates remission for buildings under construction and also introducing a further rates remission after seismic strengthening. These changes aim to encourage property owners to strengthen their buildings. The changes are contained in our amended Rates Remission Policy.
Growth centres: our goal is to direct growth along a spine from Johnsonville in the north, through the CBD, to Kilbirnie. This will result in population increases in those areas and demand for services. Additions this year include:
- undertake significant road improvements in partnership with the New Zealand Transport Agency
- undertake work on the design and Resource Consent for the new library.
- extend our free wifi offering
- boost summer retail activity through new Christmas and New Year events
- introduce a minor public space improvements project
- support the completion of the National War Memorial Park.
Kilbirnie and east
- create a shared cycling and walking pathway across Kilbirnie
- complete public space improvements at Coutts and Onepu roads
- support the new Miramar Business Improvement District Area (and its application of a $80,000 targeted rate from commercial rated properties in the Miramar Business Improvement District Area).
We have also deferred or decided to no longer pursue some projects and plans.
Tawa artificial sportsfields: we had proposed to build an additional synthetic sportsfield in the Grenada North/Tawa area in 2014/15. However, a recently developed Wellington Regional Sportsfield Strategy recommended that this not proceed at this time. Consequently, the Council agreed to defer the construction of this turf (reducing our net capital expenditure by $1.046 million) noting that the Tawa Rugby Football Club has decided to construct an artificial sportsfield at Lyndhurst Park and we will upgrade the upper field at Redwood Park in Tawa with a sand-based surface.
Prince of Wales Reservoir: we had planned to construct a new 35 million litre reservoir above Prince of Wales Park in Mt Cook to serve Wellington Hospital’s emergency needs and service potential population growth in the inner-city. We have subsequently agreed to defer this project while we investigate alternative options, including the building of a second water pipe across the harbour. This reduced our capital expenditure by $3.1 million in 2014/15.
Southern Landfill extension: we are applying for resource consent to expand this significant waste management facility. However, we are not planning to do any physical works in 2014/15 as the existing landfill sites have enough capacity for the current volumes of refuse being deposited there. This reduced our capital expenditure by $6.5 million in 2014/15.
Regional Amenities Fund: this fund was established as a ‘top-up’ funding mechanism for entities that provide regional benefits, primarily in the arts, culture and environmental attractions and events sectors. The Council had budgeted a total contribution of $1,336,500 to this regional fund in 2014/15; an increase of $727,300. We have decided to reallocate this increase to support the volunteer graffiti eradication programme (see below) and provide the financial capacity to support Wellington-based projects through the Council’s Economic Development Fund, using similar criteria to the Regional Amenities Fund.
The plan has been influenced by public feedback
We received 633 written submissions, considered the views of 258 people who completed an on-line survey and 196 Our Capital Voice panel members. We also heard directly from 94 submitters as part of our hearings process.
The feedback has resulted in the confirmation of projects and changes. However, the work programme outlined in this document is not the same as the draft plan. Changes made by the Council after hearing from the community include:
- bringing forward the upgrade of the community playground at Makara School from 2016/17 to 2014/15
- providing funding for the ongoing maintenance of the National War Memorial Park
- extending the funding period to provide free wifi in the central city
- redirecting a portion of our planned increased contribution to the Regional Amenities Fund to our Economic Development Fund
- funding design work and Resource Consent application for the new library in Johnsonville
- funding for the city-wide volunteer graffiti eradication programme
- reinstating funding for phase two of the Kilbirnie Town Centre upgrade (public space improvements from the Coutts Street and Onepu Road corner to connect with stage one of the town centre upgrade at the southern end of Bay Road)
- deferring a commitment to public space improvements around Lombard Lane, Denton Park and part of Bond Street to next year’s plan
- agreement to consider including, as part of the 2015-25 Long-term Plan, $260,000 towards the Karori Events Centre provided the Trust has raised at least $1 million from non-Council sources in addition to the $350,000 raised to date
- an expanded definition for the Development Contributions Policy to recognise equivalent environmental rating tools and assessments that provide evidence of equal or better environmental performance for the city, when compared to the green star rating tool
- refinements to performance measures.