Part A: Introduction
Message from the Chief Executive
This Annual Plan, which is effectively a new chapter in the Council’s Long-term Plan, helps Wellington grow sustainably.
All the signs point to a stronger economy in the coming year, which is the right time to make the decisions to keep that momentum going.
While the Council is heading in the right direction, there is still work to do.
The Council has three roles in a successful city:
1) Do the basics well – what I call the clean, green and safe agenda, keeping streets clean, roads maintained and emptying bins on time
2) Ensure the council is a well-led, well-run organisation with a clear agenda, sound finances and processes, good discipline and robust risk management and ICT systems. And there must be an effective, joined-up working relationship between appointed officials and the elected representatives.
3) Having an external focus – making the sure the city is the best it can be environmentally, socially and economically.
How does the Council measure up? On the first point, it does the basics really well. Wellington is a beautiful, clean and safe city. If you took an equivalent size city in the UK, there will be a few neighbourhoods you cannot walk around during the day and feel safe. There is no place in Wellington that is unsafe. The city’s assets and roads are in good shape with more accurate information than other councils on the age and condition of its underground pipe network.
On the second point, there is room for improvement but the Council is making good progress. It has an excellent credit rating (AA), prudent financial limits, carries less debt than most councils and is using innovation, shared services and technology to reduce costs and be as efficient as possible.
On the final point, the Council is doing really well environmentally and socially but needs to do more to support the economy – and it has, and it is. The council’s LTP tackled the economy head-on with exciting new projects to transform Wellington. The focus on the economy matters because rates from the business sector fund almost half the cost of providing council services. A growing rates base means more funding to improve environmental and social services, as well as infrastructure and economic development.
I have always said that the Council must earn the right to do the clever stuff – in other words, it must do the basics really well before it can invest in new and exciting projects such as the movie museum and convention centre. The Council is doing the basics well and is always looking for new and better ways of working.
Parking Services is a case in point. The Council brought the service in-house, invested heavily in training and equipment and paid parking officers the living wage. It modernised the service, rolled out sensors to automate street parking, will allow differential pricing and provided more parking spaces from the same system. It is not all about enforcement, customer service is equally important and parking officers play a wider ambassadorial role. So overall the city gets the best of both worlds – an improved service and value for money.
The good news is that the Council has managed to add new initiatives while keeping a lid on rates – the average rates increase this year is 3.6%, as forecast in our LTP and, importantly, without having to cut services.
The Annual Plan means the people of Wellington will continue to receive all their Council services – plus new projects that will transform the city – at an average of $5.93 per resident a day. This is roughly the same cost per resident a day as power, petrol, phone or internet, bills – but the council provides a multitude of services, not just one. By anyone’s measure, that is good value for money.