Have your say on Council's draft Long-Term Plan

Published on 08 April 2024

Laughing children playing with bubbles in Te Marae o Hine.

It's time for Palmerston North residents and businesses to give feedback on the services, activities and projects Council plans on delivering for our community over the next decade.  

Our Long-Term Plan is our roadmap that helps decide what work Council needs to do, when and how much it will cost. It also helps determine what rates will be in the coming years. 

We're asking our community whether they want to change the system used to determine rates 

We currently use the land value (LV) of each property as the basis for determining what proportion of the city’s total rates are paid by a property owner. Since the last revaluation 2.5 years ago, some people in our community have asked us to consider moving to capital value (CV).  As part of this consultation, we're seeking feedback on 3 options:

  • status quo (LV)
  • capital value (CV)
  • a hybrid mix of both systems, where 70% of rates are determined on land value and 30% on capital value.  

Mayor Grant Smith says Council's preferred option is the hybrid option. 

"We believe the hybrid option is the right balance for now. If we moved to a capital value system, many ratepayers would see their rates fall, but there'd also be many who see their rates rise. Some major businesses in our city would be especially impacted by very large rises and we're conscious they play a key role in our city's economy and employment. While we've signalled it is our preferred option, getting community feedback on the 3 options will help elected members decide which option is best to proceed with." 

We're also proposing to reduce the discount on the general rate provided to properties between 0.2 and 0.5 hectares, also known as lifestyle blocks. These properties are generally classified as rural.  

We're also seeking feedback on proposed upgrades to community facilities, and some new ones

With a growing city, some of our community facilities are bulging at the seams, some are no longer fit for purpose and there is potential for new ones too. In our plan we're seeking feedback on proposed upgrades to existing facilities. They include expanding the Pasifika Centre ($3.9M), expanding the Te Pātikitiki Highbury Library ($3.6M) and, at the Central Energy Trust Arena, replacing the current Arena 5 (Barber Hall and a collection of smaller buildings which need seismic upgrades) with a new facility and more turfs ($36M).   

Proposed new facilities include leasing a space for our multicultural community to use ($750k), a new Awapuni Community Library service hub ($27.1M), and the creation of a civic marae along with visitor and education facilities at Te Motu o Poutua Anzac Park ($19.1M). The work at Te Motu o Poutoa Anzac Park also involves Rangitāne contributing financially towards the cost, as well as external funding. No construction would occur on that project until all funding is sourced.  

We'd like our community's opinions on seismic upgrades to the Central Library and Te Manawa Museum 

Over the coming decade, we're proposing to complete the legally required seismic upgrades to 8 of our buildings. Work at the crematorium, water treatment plant and wastewater plants is already underway, and work on the Regent Theatre will start in the next couple of years as it has a shorter legal timeframe in which it needs to be strengthened.  

The next 2 facilities needing strengthening are the Central Library and Te Manawa. We're keen to hear from our community if they want us to just complete seismic upgrades or look at improving these 2 facilities to better cater for our community in the future - like what we're seeing in Christchurch, Tauranga and Hamilton with their civic and cultural facilities. In our plan we're stating we will need 90% co-funding for this legally required work, regardless of the option selected.  We're proposing to work on those plans and explore funding opportunities over the next 3 years. 

Transport, water, housing and growth are big investment areas

We're proposing major investment in our city infrastructure over the next decade. In the transport space we're proposing to spend $481M on new transport projects (we expect approximately $210M of that will come from NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi). We're continuing to make sure people have a place to call home through rezoning projects, using council land for housing, new homelessness initiatives and continuing to invest in social housing.  

Water is the biggest investment of the decade, with more than $1B proposed to be spent over the decade. That includes continued investment in drinking water, wastewater and stormwater. Major projects in water include work to meet new drinking water standards, to support growth and our Nature Calls waste (resource) project. In our plan we're indicating that we cannot fund our Nature Calls resource water project through normal Council borrowing tools. We're proposing to use a new funding mechanism, which could see homeowners pay up to a $1,000 levy each year on top of their rates for wastewater in the future. The exact timeframe for that levy is unknown, but it would be at least 3 years away and subject to another Long-Term Plan and future significant consultation with our community.  

Government requirements are a large part of our costs over the next decade

Over the decade we're proposing to spend $2.3B on large infrastructure projects (capital projects). Mayor Grant Smith says a very large portion of these projects are legally required.  

"A big chunk of that spending is for our seismic upgrades, water infrastructure upgrades, and growth-related projects that are required by law. We're not alone, all councils around the country are facing the same problems for the same projects. Like many other councils we're telling the government, loud and clear, that we need their help for these legally required projects as our community simply cannot afford them, which is why we need to seek external or co-funding for many of these."  

In the coming year (Year 1 2024-25) the total rates increase needed is 11.3%. The rates for each property depends on the property type. But also, with a potential change in rating system, some people could see higher rates or possibly a reduction (depending on the rating system adopted). That is why it is essential people see what the options are for their properties on our website tool and let us know what system they want us to use.  

Mayor Smith says 6.7% of our proposed total rates increase alone is from interest costs, debt repayment, utility bills and insurance for our assets and facilities.  

"We have worked very hard over the last 5 months to review everything we do to keep our proposed rates rise down as low as possible, while also ensuring that our roading, housing and water infrastructure, that is so important for our community, continues to be maintained and improved.  We know our community are going to find an 11.3% increase hard, and I’m sorry but we've done a range of things to get reductions to that point. That includes many projects requiring external funding, increasing fees and charges (like rubbish bags and on-street parking fees), slowing down or stopping lower priority projects or improvements." 

It's never been more important for our community to give feedback

This is one of the most important consultations we have ever carried out, and it is important that we get a wide range of public feedback so we can make the best decisions for our city and community for the future.  

All homes will receive a booklet outlining the key points of our consultation. All property owners will also receive a letter about the rates review. People can find out more information by reading all of our consultation material at pncc.govt.nz/ltp and at our libraries or Customer Service Centre. Submissions can also be made at these locations.  

We will have a range of drop-in sessions during the consultation period at our community libraries. We're also encouraging our community to come to the Planning Palmy Expo at the Conference and Function Centre on Saturday 20 April, from 10am to 1pm. At that time, Council staff and elected members will be able to answer questions from our community about all the topics in our consultation, and any other Council matters too.  

On Wednesday 17 April at 6.30pm, we will have a Facebook Live where our community can also ask questions live to our elected members.

Mayor Smith is encouraging everyone to ensure their voice is heard.  

"We all know that Palmerston North is a great place to live, work, play and do business and we want to ensure that remains the case. We need to know what you love, and also what you'd change about our proposed plan. We're looking forward to seeing our community at these sessions, and to reading their submissions. Please make sure your voice is heard." 

Submissions close at 4pm Thursday 9 May.