You, and everyone else in our our community is affected by what we decide.
Introduction from Mayor Grant Smith and PNCC Chief Executive Heather Shotter
Kia ora tātou
This year Papaioea Palmerston North commemorates the city’s 150th anniversary. It’s a celebration of where we’ve come from, built on our strong Rangitāne o Manawatū foundation, and are heading as a thriving, modern and multicultural regional city.
Our last 10-Year Plan launched a bolder city direction through a new vision: small city benefits, big city ambition. We aim to offer the best combination of metropolitan and provincial New Zealand to residents, visitors and investors.
Our city vision encompasses great quality of life in a safe, caring and green city that has diverse, affordable services and top entertainment, all in a family-friendly environment. Palmerston North is fast becoming the city of choice for people to live, work and play. We have worked successfully towards this vision over the past three years.
Despite the headwinds of the Covid-19 pandemic, our city has continued its upward trajectory. Strong fundamentals and economic diversity have kept us ahead of others. Record numbers of building consent applications, a solid labour market, resurgence of event activity, and multiple major capital projects indicate a confident outlook for Palmerston North.
Major project impetus includes the KiwiRail Regional Freight Hub, Te Ahu a Tūranga: Manawatū-Tararua Highway, Mercury windfarms, and significant infrastructure work at local New Zealand Defence Force bases.
Together, these and other major investments represent efficient, green patterns of growth that are setting Palmerston North up for sustainable success. We are also strengthening our reputation in areas of innovative strength, including agri-food, with Council rolling out a fresh identity of Palmy centred in becoming the food innovation capital of New Zealand.
Our vision and strategic goals have strong community buy-in, and we will continue on this track in order to build the future we want for our people today and tomorrow.
In the last three years, the city has made solid progress towards the vision and goals across economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing.
Steps forward include developing residential and essential infrastructure, both being significant ongoing challenges for New Zealand cities. In wellbeing infrastructure, we have redeveloped two stages of social housing units at Papiaoea Place into modern, eco-friendly units. The tenants feel warmer, safer and more connected to their community. This was so successful that we’re proposing to bring forward the redevelopment of the next stage of units.
Palmerston North’s city centre transformation has advanced well, including the Streets for People redesign, and modernisation of the Central Energy Trust Arena. The Manawatū River Network is becoming a true lifestyle attraction. He Ara Kotahi bridge and shared pathway is a milestone as an active transport commuter link and a recreational asset, getting people back to enjoying our riverside. Our eco-city is taking shape, from greener infrastructure and Green Corridors, through to a city carbon model towards a low carbon future.
We supported the 2020 Under-18 Men’s Softball World Cup at Colquhoun Park. Twelve international teams attended and each was linked with a local school to show that the city was fully behind the event.
We upgraded Milverton Park, including putting in new natural play equipment for children and have received fantastic feedback on this. We invested in the Ashhurst pool (Splashhurst) and now Ashhurst residents have a great local place to swim.
Managing growth sustainably while investing in day to day services (maintaining footpaths through to providing library programmes), will demand some carefully-considered trade-offs. This 10-Year Plan, set in the financial constraints of the pandemic era, needs to take into account some big challenges. It is the tool where we think about and address these obstacles, taking into account your important feedback.
Major challenges in this 10-Year Plan
- Nature Calls
- the increasing costs of renewing and maintaining our infrastructure
- uncertainty about the timing of government water reforms
- the costs of providing infrastructure and land to keep the city growing as well as ensuring there is a good supply of housing.
You can read more information about these – and the other challenges – throughout the consultation document, and on this 10-Year Plan website.
Through the 10-Year Plan we are looking for the right balance between achieving the vision, addressing the challenges, and affordability. The efficiencies we strike must also deliver what matters if we are to progress as a city. We think we have this balance right in the short term. However, we need to hear your views on where this balance should lie.
Rates would need to increase to fund existing council services and the key projects we are proposing in this plan under our vision. In year one, the average rates increase would be 6.9%. That equates to an extra $3.48 per week for the average residential ratepayer. This increase takes account of what is ahead of us and directly behind us.
To get ahead as a city responsibly, so all of our people benefit, we have to grow and manage this growth. We are also in a state of overall catch-up. Last year’s proposed rates income increase of 4.4% was reduced to a minimum rise of 1.95% to manage Covid-19 impacts. We have done a good job running at minimum levels, and we now need to take a sustainable approach. Three quarters of the 6.9% rates increase is for increased emphasis on asset renewals in order to catch up. It is also important to note that 25% of our funding comes from sources other than rates.
As outlined we think we have a good balanced plan in the short term.
However, under current conditions and NZ Local Government Funding Agency rules, we will not be able to borrow sufficient funds for Nature Calls. This borrowing really kicks in at year four. This means, without change, the 10-Year Plan is not financially sustainable in the longer term.
Without Nature Calls our borrowing would be sustainable. Since the water reforms may remove responsibility for the Nature Calls project from us, we do not currently have the information to plan sensibly for the longer term. We simply don’t know what we would be planning for.
We will revisit this issue through a new 10-Year Plan when we have more certainty. This could be before the next scheduled 10-Year Plan in 2024. As with all 10-Year Plans, we will do this in consultation with you. We are determined to deliver on our vision and goals, and it’s important we address all the issues we face in a planned, sensible and affordable way. Palmy 2021-31 summarises how we think this could happen based on what we currently know.
At this stage we’re presenting proposals only. Please read our consultation document, think about the questions within it, and then, whether you agree with us or disagree, tell us your views.
This plan needs to reflect the community’s wishes. This is your city, and we need to know what you think. What really matters to you? What will matter to Palmy residents in 10 years’ time? In another 150 years?