Part A: Introduction
We all love Wellington, and we know we can make it even better. This year’s annual plan is all about getting on with the job.
This is the first budget for our newly elected Council. Last year, we were given an incredible honour: the chance to make a difference for our city. We’ve tried not to waste a single minute. This plan is a roadmap to a more confident, vibrant Wellington. A city with a growing economy, plenty of well-paid jobs, and arts and culture at its heart. A city where housing is affordable and we support people in need. A city where it’s easy to get around, and transport is efficient and affordable for everyone. And finally, a city that has recovered from the recent earthquakes and is safer for the future.
It starts with our economy. Currently the city is humming and we’re growing strongly with 2.8 percent growth in the last 12 months – but there’s more we can do. In this plan you’ll find a range of measures to further boost growth. We’re building a film museum and convention centre that will attract millions of dollars in tourism, and we’re backing local business by speeding up consenting.
We’re also taking action on the biggest issue our city faces: housing.
Affordable high-quality housing should be available to everyone in Wellington. That’s why we’re rolling out a comprehensive approach on housing. We’re building 750 new social and affordable houses over the next decade, refurbishing inner city buildings for new apartments, offering a $5000 rates rebate to first-home builders, simplifying consents to make it easier to build, and investing in the country’s first wet house to look after those most in need.
We’re also investing in the arts and culture that make Wellington such a colourful and exciting place to live. We’re working to reopen Wellington’s iconic Town Hall, and through our Capital of Culture programme half a million dollars will be invested in new festivals, public art and supporting emerging artists. It’ll ensure Wellington remains the coolest little capital in the world.
And we’re doing all this in a way that is affordable for ratepayers and focussed on getting the best value for every dollar we spend.
Despite a major earthquake and the unexpected costs that came with it, we’ve kept average rates increases down from a forecast 5.1 percent to just 3.3 percent. We’ve done that by re-phasing $11 million in lower priority spending. It means our debt levels are over $40 million less than forecast.
At the same time, we’re making sure ratepayers get better value at Council facilities through programmes like dropping spectators’ fees at Council pools.