What’s new or changed

The 2012–22 Long-term Plan contained a number of projects to be undertaken in 2014/15 across the range of Council services. We are now proposing to make changes to some of the things we had planned, and these are outlined below. We welcome your feedback on these proposed variances.

We plan to invest in cycling as a priority

We propose to increase our cycling budget to $4.3 million (an extra $3 million capital expenditure and $250,000 operating expenditure) to improve the networks and safety.

The additional funding will be used to develop better commuter cycling routes and make safety improvements, including more advanced cycle stop boxes (waiting areas) and feeder lanes at intersections. The route between Island Bay and the CBD will be a priority. We have already identified a number of different route and design options. Wellington’s narrow streets and topography mean there is a need to prioritise road space – we need to balance the competing demands of vehicles, cyclists, public transport, pedestrians and parking across the whole network. We will undertake public engagement to help decide what will work best for the potential users, locally-affected residents and the wider community for this route.

We’ll remove red tape to stimulate developmentTop

We propose changes to the way we administer Development Contributions. The proposed changes aim to encourage development of quality buildings, reduce compliance costs and improve the efficiency of Council processes.

Development Contributions are based on the principle that new development cause demand for new infrastructure. Development Contributions fund some core infrastructure like water, drainage and transport, but currently also include community infrastructure like sportsfields and pools for reserves and developments.

The changes to the process and contributions include:

1. Recognition for significant five star green rated developments, this will result in an approximate 50 percent reduction in contributions.
2. Remove charges for community infrastructure for residential developments in advance of proposed legislative changes.
3. Remove reserve contributions for commercial developments in advance of proposed legislative changes.

We propose to reduce these contributions overall – by an average around 20 percent – including removing reserve contributions from commercial development contributions and community infrastructure contributions from all developments.

See page 112 for more details on the proposed changes to the Development Contributions Policy.

And set in place incentives to support and encourage earthquake strengtheningTop

We are proposing to offer stronger incentives for owners to strengthen quake-prone buildings.

The quake-strengthening incentives package would be a ‘do now’ option that adds to our existing built heritage grant funding while the Council works with the Government and other organisations, including the banking and insurance sectors, on the feasibility of other more ambitious schemes that could make financial assistance to building owners more accessible.

The package proposed as part of this draft plan includes:

The three components of rates relief proposed above will not increase the Council’s rates requirement, but it will mean other ratepayers will pay a marginally higher proportion on their rates bill to offset the relief provided to the owners of earthquake-prone buildings. The actual timing and quantum of this impact will depend on when earthquake strengthening occurs and the valuation changes of those buildings but has been estimated to be between $200,000 and $500,000 per annum (or 0.08 to 0.2 percent on the average rates bill).

See page 114 for more details on the quake-strengthening incentives and resulting changes to the Rates Remission Policy.

We’re committed to lifting the wages of the lowest paidTop

The Council has committed to a living wage-rate for its staff and is considering it for employees of Council-controlled organisations and contractors for Council services. The Living Wage movement aims to reduce poverty and inequality through lifting the wages of the lowest paid.

A living wage rate is already being implemented for Council employees

Wellington City Council is a diverse organisation. Its workforce reflects this, with roles ranging from professions such as architecture and civil engineering to intensive labour and customer service roles. The skills required to run a city are numerous and ever changing.

A workforce development plan that provides for the retention, attraction and development of these skills is vital for the Council. Remuneration is one part of that plan. Lifting the lowest wages to that of the living wage rate is one signal that the Council values the contribution its people make to the operations of the city.

As at December 2013 there were about 450 direct employees earning under the living wage rate. The roles they perform are directly aligned to the Council’s objectives. Performing them to expected levels improves safety, lifts environmental practices, enhances customer service and drives efficiencies so that we are open for business. Lifting their incomes is recognition of this contribution.

The cost of applying a living wage-rate for Council employees is $750,0005 in 2014/15. A sum of $500,000 was already included in the Council’s budget and the additional $250,000 will be found from the overall personnel budget.

An increase for Council-controlled organisations and contractors is being considered

We propose to direct our Council-controlled organisations, through the statement of intent process, to consider how they would introduce a living wage-rate for their staff and report back to us as part of the 2015–25 Long-term Plan process. Further work will be done on the best way to implement a living wage-rate for employees of Council contractors.

The costs of applying a living wage-rate to these organisations has not been finalised but would be well in excess of $2 million per annum. While it is anticipated that some costs would be offset through improved productivity or savings, the majority would require new funding. The likely options to meet the costs of that are:

Our investment in growth centres will continue this yearTop

Our goal is to direct growth along a spine from Johnsonville in the north, through the CBD, to Kilbirnie. This year we propose:

Johnsonville roading

We plan to do long-awaited road improvements, in partnership with NZTA to improve general road safety. The proposed work would include creating extra capacity at key intersections, work to reduce queuing on the SH 1 Ngauranga Gorge off-ramp, upgraded bus waiting facilities with new stops as well as walking and cycling improvements. This work is expected to cost the Council $3.5 million in capital expenditure in 2014/15. Other agencies and stakeholders including NZTA, will contribute to this $10.5 million project.

Kilbirnie cycle and walkway

We plan to create a shared cycling and walking pathway across Kilbirnie at a cost of $280,220 in capital expenditure. This project was identified in the Kilbirnie Town Centre Plan and involves upgrading the drainage reserve with landscaping, planting, signs and improved entry points and road crossings. Sponsorship and other funding will be sought to assist with the costs.

Minor CBD improvements

Maintaining the attractiveness, functionality and vibrancy of the central city is a priority for the Council. In addition to the existing large-scale urban development projects under way, we plan to budget an additional $100,000 for minor improvements we could make to enhance the CBD. These include way-finding and information measures (eg building numbers and information panels) public art and minor improvements to pedestrian routes.

Lombard Lane

We propose to improve Lombard Lane, Denton Park and part of Bond Street in conjunction with the redevelopment of the buildings bordered by these pieces of public land in the central city. The work would include new paving, seating, street lighting and planting. This would contribute to our goal of investing in public spaces that stimulate increased economic and retail activity. We plan to spend $1.5 million in capital expenditure to complete this work, subject to the private redevelopment taking place.

We also intend to make service improvementsTop

Our Capital Spaces

In 2013, the Council adopted Our Capital Spaces – a framework to develop, promote and prioritise investment in the city’s open spaces and outdoor recreation facilities. As part of this draft Annual Plan, we are proposing:

Storm damage

Wellington was hit by severe storms in 2013. These caused damage to infrastructure over and above normal levels, particularly along the south coast and to trees throughout the city. We are budgeting for remedial works including:

Libraries – children’s literacy and outreach

We propose 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 propose to 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. This will enable us to work with a range of potential partners to explore development options and then engage with the wider Newtown community on these options.

Rural road improvements

In response to a request from the Makara-Ohariu Community Board, we plan to allocate $100,000 in capital expenditure for minor safety initiatives on rural roads in Ohariu and Makara.

We’ve decided to reprioritise some of our capital spendingTop

Artificial sportsfields

In the 2012–22 Long-term Plan, we proposed to build an additional synthetic sportsfield in the Grenada North/Tawa area in 2014/15. Since then, councils across the Wellington region and regional sports organisations participated in the development of a Regional Sportsfield Strategy. It recommended that this proposed turf not proceed at this time because two artificial sportsfields have recently been constructed in Porirua and there are plans for drainage work on three other fields. A new turf is also under construction at Alex Moore Park. The report concluded that, together, these developments would meet the needs of this part of the region. Deferring this work would result in a reduction in our net capital expenditure of $1.046 million.

Kilbirnie Suburban Centre upgrade (stage 2)

We had proposed to do some street and footpath work on the south-west corner of the Onepu Road/Coutts Street intersection (outside Westpac) in Kilbirnie. This would have closed the existing slip road and created some more angle car parks. It was a proposed link between Bay Road and a planned development at the Bus Barn.

This work is no longer considered a priority as we believe there is sufficient parking in this area, and the anticipated redevelopment of the Bus Barn site is not likely in the near future. Stopping this work would result in a reduction in our capital expenditure of $555,000. A portion of this is proposed to be redirected to Kilbirnie cycle and Walkway (see page 16).

Prince of Wales Reservoir

We had planned to construct a new 35 million litre reservoir above Prince of Wales Park in Mt Cook. This aims to serve Wellington Hospital’s emergency needs and service potential population growth in the inner-city. The project anticipates funding from the Capital & Coast District Health Board. An alternative option to build a second water pipe across the harbour has been identified, and it is proposed to defer the detailed design and construction of the reservoir until this feasibility study is completed. Deferring this work would reduce 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. The timing of a start on the stage 4 extension will be reviewed as part of the 2015–25 Long-term Plan. Deferring this work will reduce our capital expenditure by $6.5 million in 2014/15.

Fees and chargesTop

A summary of fees and charges can be found on page 119.

2Buildings assessed as 33 percent or less of the National Building Standard (NBS) and on Wellington City Council’s earthquake-prone buildings list.
3The details of how this is achieved and calculated is included in the Rates Remission Policy on page 114.
4Buildings assessed as 33 percent or less of the National Building Standard (NBS) and on the Wellington City Council’s earthquake-prone buildings list.
5In December 2013 Council decided to bring Parking services in-house. These staff will be paid a living-wage rate. This cost will be factored into the final 2014/15 budget.