Update on long-term plan deliberations

Published on 04 June 2024

The mayor and councillors standing in front of the Council Chamber.

On Wednesday 29, Thursday 30 and Friday 31 May, elected members made changes to our proposed long-term plan based on community feedback.  

The decisions below do not encompass every decision made but do include many of the key questions we asked our community during our consultation and key themes we heard in submissions. The minutes will be released on our website following King’s Birthday weekend, and the deliberations can be viewed on our YouTube channel

The decisions made last week will be incorporated into budgets, looked at on 10 June and then finally agreed 26 June.  

The changes see the total rates increase for Year 1 (July 2024 to June 2025) reduce from 11.3% to 10.1% 

Support for a new rating system

Elected members voted to change to a hybrid rating system where 50% of general rates will be determined on land value, and 50% on capital value. This would be phased in, in three equal stages over three years.  

This is slightly different to the hybrid option that was discussed in the consultation document, which was 70% land value, 30% capital and which was going to come into effect immediately.  

More information on how this will work will be provided to our community once the long-term plan is adopted.  

A change in rating system does not impact how much total rates the council collects, but rather it changes what proportion different ratepayers pay. 

Rural rates discount to reduce, but not as much as proposed during consultation  

Rural ratepayers currently don’t pay as much as residential ratepayers, to reflect that they don’t get all the same services (for example, footpaths and streetlights). Currently there is a 37% discount to the general rate for these ratepayers. During consultation we proposed that discount should be 17%. 

Elected members voted to reduce the discount to 30% in Year 1 (July 2024 to June 2025), and 25% in Year 2 (July 2025 to June 2026). 

We’re taking another look at Nature Calls 

During consultation, we explained that our Nature Calls wastewater project could cost $647M, which would see an additional levy to rates of at least $1,000 per year once construction began (likely after Y4).  

As a result of feedback, elected members have voted to reduce that budget to $400M, and that staff review and report back to Council about whether there is a better Best Practicable Option for our treatment and discharge for the future.  

New emissions target set

Elected members have set a new emissions target for Council. Our new target is to reduce emissions by 60% from our 2015/16 baseline. This will be reported on annually.  

Seismic upgrades to be deferred for one year

We’d proposed starting design for the Regent Theatre in Year 1, with construction in Year 2-3, and the other seismic upgrades to the Library, Te Manawa and other facilities following then. Elected members have voted to spread the planned works over the 10-year period and defer the start of the programme by one year. This has allowed for around $15M of the programme cost to be deferred out of the next 10 years. The design for the Regent Theatre will now start in Y2 and construction Y3 and Y4, and the other facilities will also be deferred one year.  

Multicultural Centre to have a new home 

We’d proposed finding a new facility in the city centre to lease for our multicultural events. We proposed that would cost $750,000 to fit out the space and have operating costs of $200,000 each year.  

Now, the Multicultural Centre will move into the main council building. This will require council staff to be moved around, and the space to be fitted out for this use at a cost of $450,000 (a $300,000 saving), and a reduction in operational costs from $200,000 to $40,000. This reduced operational cost is primarily due to not needing to pay for a lease. While the space isn’t as large as originally proposed, it meets most requirements for a space for our multicultural communities to gather for most events.

Some changes to shared pathway proposals

Elected members have reduced the shared pathway budget as part of deliberations. $55M had been proposed to be spent on a shared pathway from Feilding to Palmerston North and connecting the river pathway to Ashhurst.  

Elected members have voted to spend $6M over the first three years to build and connect the Palmerston North to Feilding Pathway, to the section where Manawatū District Council has already built.  

The proposed spending to connect the river pathway to Ashhurst has been removed, with a decision to revisit this in Y4 as part of the next long-term plan. That’s because conversations with landowners are continuing to occur, and no design has been done yet. Staff are scheduled to provide an update on how the project is progressing later in 2024. If there are any changes or opportunities over the next three years, Council can review this.  

City centre transformation and street upgrades delayed 

Proposed upgrades to our city centre have been delayed. Work was proposed to occur in the next three years in the stretch between the former Post Office building on Main Street to the Rangitikei/Cuba Street intersection.

The timing of this section was proposed to occur around when Safari Group is redeveloping the former Post Office building into a hotel. Elected members have asked that staff report back on this project, if there are updates regarding Safari Group’s development that might impact timing of this work.  

Transit hub project budget halved 

During consultation we proposed spending $20M on the new transit hub. This will now total $12M over two years (Year 3 and Year 4). 

Reduce and slow down cycling improvements  

Elected members have decided to halve the cycleway budget that had been proposed in the draft long-term plan. In Y1,3,5,7, and 9 there will be $250,000 spending each year, and Y2,4,6,8, and 10 will have budgets of $2.5M per year. This will see a slow-down of new urban cycleways being created in the city.  

Reduce low cost/low risk and Road to Zero budget

This will see the budget halved over the 10 years. This programme receives co-funding from NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi. Elected members have voted to spend $4M in Y1 and allow for inflation in the in the years following.  

Changes made to proposed upgrades at Central Energy Trust Arena 

During consultation we proposed demolishing the Barber and Bell Halls (which need seismic upgrades) and replacing these with a new facility, as well as building new turfs, changing blocks and bathrooms. We proposed completing a new artificial turf first, with work starting later this year and next. The work around the other turfs would occur in Years 2, 3, 5 and 6. Replacing Arena 5 with a new building would occur in Years 2, 4, and 5.  

Instead, we will continue to maintain Barber and Bell Halls with appropriate maintenance and at the same time construct a new Arena 5 Indoor facility over the next three years. This has a cost of $17M. The outer fields development and other proposed projects will be deferred and reconsidered in the next long-term plan, in three years.  

Changes to proposals for community libraries/hubs 

We had proposed to spend $30.5M on a new Awapuni Community Library Hub and upgrades to Te Pātikiki. Elected members have voted to reduce the budget for Awapuni to $8M and $3.5M for Te Pātikitiki.  Elected members have also allocated $1.5M for Roslyn, which wasn’t proposed during consultation but was submitted on during consultation. A report to Council on needs for Roslyn will also occur.  

Te Motu o Poutoa Anzac Park and upgrades to the Pasifika Centre are set to continue based on what was proposed during consultation.

Strategic Priority Grants increased 

We partner with community organisations to help deliver on our strategic goals to help our community. Elected members have voted to increase these grants by 10% each year over the next three years, plus CPI adjustments from Y2,  to continue supporting community needs with current inflationary pressures.  

You can read about the groups here: Strategic Priority Grants

Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 

Elected Members have considered feedback, and as a result have requested that the investigation and plan to introduce a food scraps collection now also includes a green waste collection. No other major changes have been made to what was proposed during consultation.