Plenty for North Shore City residents to consider
Options aplenty for North Shore City residents to consider
It is over to the people of North Shore City to tell their council which services and facilities they want it to provide over the next decade - and how they'll pay for them.
The council is putting a range of options before its 205,000 residents and business community in a way which breaks the mould of traditional budgeting and consultation.
Improved stormwater systems, better libraries and more parks are among the choices facing residents as part of the council's draft 2004-2014 City Plan community consultation programme.
Under the Local Government Act 2002 all councils are required to produce a long-term council community plan setting out budgets and work programmes for 10 years.
North Shore City will later this month release what it calls its draft City Plan and hopes the fresh approach featuring some controversial proposals* will spark community-wide involvement.
Mayor George Wood is urging all sectors of the community to consider the options available to them and let their councillors know what they want to do to create the kind of city they want to live in.
"We've prepared a strong budget based on the agreed priorities of sorting out our infrastructure. We forecast that rates will rise by an average 2.9 per cent for the next three years, and an average of 3.2 per cent over the 10-year plan. This rates increase will help to fund interest, repay loans raised for improving transport, wastewater and stormwater networks and buy land for new parks.
"Over 10 years, we're looking to invest a further $898m in capital projects and by careful financial management, keep debt within our constraint levels.
"But we live in an ambitious city and there are some proposals we need feedback on before we decide whether to include some or all of them in our future work programmes and budgets," he says.
"If, after listening to the community's views, we were to go ahead with these proposals, rates could increase substantially by up to an extra 35 per cent over the next decade and we would need to borrow much more. This would be over and above the level of rates increases proposed in our base budgets.
"That's why it's essential that we hear from the community on if, when and how these proposals should be funded. And if not, what should we abandon or defer?
"We will carefully consider the public feedback on these proposals and balance these views with a prudent approach to funding," Mr Wood says. Debt levels are proposed to peak at $243m over the next 10 years. North Shore City's borrowing is limited by its own, self-imposed debt constraints.
Later this month, the council will send to every household and business in the city a newsletter summarising the draft 2004-14 City Plan. The various proposals are set out in this newsletter and a reply-paid submission form will be included to make it easier for people to provide feedback.
Meetings will be held at four venues around North Shore City to explain the draft plan. People are welcome to attend a meeting, to ask questions, and to make submissions before April 22 to their elected representatives.
People are invited to visit the website, www.northshorecity.govt.nz or call Actionline on 486 8600 for a list of council offices and libraries where they can view the full draft plan from March 22.
(extract from newsletter to ratepayers summarising draft 2004-2014 City Plan)
The 14 Proposals
¤ Options with this symbol will not increase rates over the proposed 2.9 per cent for the next three years, and an average of 3.2 per cent over the next 10 years. Where rates increases are indicated, this is on top of the above figures.
Proposal 1: Network consents for stormwater and wastewater
Are we doing enough to ensure our city copes better during storms? We have applied for resource consent from Auckland Regional Council (ARC) to operate, maintain and upgrade our stormwater and wastewater networks. We need to decide on what basis to support the consent applications: should we continue stormwater works as we are or at a much faster rate? All options for wastewater improvements follow the Project CARE programme.
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ We continue stormwater upgrade spending at our current rate of $7m per year over 120 years. However, this is not considered adequate to overcome the long-term effects on the environment and it is unlikely that we will meet all the requirements of ARC's proposed Air, Land and Water Plan.
Option 2 0.5% rates increase p.a. We spend $5m more per year from 2006/07 over 70 years on stormwater upgrades which will help reduce the long-term effects on the environment and should meet the requirements of ARC's proposed Air, Land and Water Plan.
Option 3 1.6% rates increase p.a. We spend an extra $17m per year from 2006/07 over 35 years on stormwater upgrades.
Proposal 2: Undergrounding utilities
Should we pay for the undergrounding of overhead power and telephone lines throughout the city? We would like to place all power and phone lines underground in our city as they can pose a health risk and are unsightly. The $67m sale of our UnitedNetworks shares has been used to pay off some of our debt and fund capital projects.
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ No undergrounding other than when required for road widening.
Option 2 0.9% rates increase We spend $1m per year on undergrounding in places where there are public health and road safety benefits and beautiful views in public areas.
Option 3 3.5% rates increase We spend $4m per year undergrounding all power and phone lines in our city over the next 70 years.
Proposal 3: Road corridor weed control
Which method should we use to control weeds? It's our job to maintain roads and this includes controlling the spread of weeds. There are different methods available and we want to know which you prefer.
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ We continue with the current method of mechanical weed trimmer and hot water using a high-pressure steam spray. This is not controlling the weeds in summer.
Option 2 0.6% rates increase We use a mechanical weed trimmer and spray hot water more often than in option 1.
Option 3 0.2% rates increase We use a mechanical weed trimmer and spray hot water with the same frequency as option 1 and apply chemicals on invasive weeds growing beneath paving. This method is more effective than options 1 and 2.
Option 4 0.3% rates decrease We use chemicals and a mechanical weed trimmer in specific areas. This is the most effective method for controlling weeds but there may be some environmental and health risks.
Option 5 0.7% rates increase We use mainly fatty acids such as 'organic interceptor' or 'bio safe' with some hot water. This option is effective in controlling weeds, has fewer health and safety risks than option 4 but is more expensive.
Proposal 4: Funding growth
Who should pay for the cost of growth in our city? We need to meet the demand created from growth for community facilities, parks and infrastructure such as roads, and stormwater and wastewater networks. But who do you think should pay for this and how?
Option 1 Introduce development contributions. This is a way of funding growth-related costs so that those who create the demand for facilities and infrastructure pay for them rather than the wider community.
Option 2 Collect financial contributions as a condition of a resource consent. This is similar to development contributions but would take longer to introduce, has greater risk and would mean a lower recovery of these costs, leaving the burden with ratepayers.
Option 3 Fund the cost of growth through large increases in rates and debt.
Proposal 5: Town centres
Do you think our town centres need revitalising and how much should we invest to do so? How town centres look often determines their vitality and viability. These centres are a focus for retail, leisure, commercial and community facilities.
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ We continue our current spending of $400,000 per year.
Option 2 0.1% rates increase p.a. We spend an extra $900,000 per year to upgrade more town centres.
Proposal 6: Acquisition and development of strategic sites
Should we buy land to manage future development, for example in town centres, where there is significant community interest? Some costs may be offset by rental income from the acquired properties.
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ We do not establish a fund but consider purchases on a case-by-case basis.
Option 2 0.2% rates increase p.a. Set up a $3m fund per year to acquire land.
Proposal 7: Economic and tourism initiatives
Should we support and fund economic development and tourism in our city? We have an Economic Development Strategy and Tourism Management Plan and we would like to know what level of involvement you feel we should have. Note: We currently spend $2.5m a year on these activities.
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ We reduce funding for economic development by $500,000 per annum.
Option 2 0.5% rates increase We do not reduce spending on economic development by $500,000 per annum as proposed in option 1.
Option 3 1% rates increase Increase spending on tourism by $600,000 per year over and above option 2.
Option 4 1.5% rates increase Increase spending on economic development by $500,000 per year and on tourism by $600,000 per year over and above option 2.
Proposal 8: Waste levy
Who should pay for new waste collection services in our city? We aim to reduce waste going to landfill by five per cent each year by encouraging people to throw away less and recycle more. Waste disposal costs are increasing and we're considering new services such as the related kitchen waste collection in proposal 9.
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ We continue our current annual spending of $5.9m with no new waste collection services and possible cut backs in existing ones.
Option 2 2.8% rates increase We introduce new services such as a kitchen waste collection to be funded through rates and user pays charges.
Option 3 0% rates increase ¤ We introduce new services such as a kitchen waste collection to be funded through a $30 per tonne levy on waste sent to landfill.
Proposal 9: Kitchen waste collection
Should we introduce new waste collection services in our city? About 100,000 tonnes of waste from our city's homes and businesses go to landfill each year including food scraps. We're considering introducing a voluntary, weekly kitchen waste collection. This waste would be composted, sold and used in gardens. It would be collected in a special 45-litre container.
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ No kitchen waste collection.
Option 2 0% rates increase ¤ We introduce a kitchen waste collection funded by proposal 8, option 3. This option is dependent on proposal 8, option 3 being chosen.
Proposal 10: Library services
Should we build a large city library or a number of smaller community libraries in the northern suburbs and should we upgrade our Devonport Library?
Northern library services We will soon have a 500 sq m village library in Albany but is that enough for a growing part of the city?
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ Albany Village Library only with no funding for new libraries.
Option 2 2.8% rates increase We establish several new community libraries in the northern suburbs in 2012, working with other groups. We would look at partnerships with schools, universities or the private sector to help reduce the cost. Initial cost would be $15-20m and about $6m per year in running costs.
Option 3 4.1 % rates increase We establish a new city library in Albany in 2012, with or without partnerships with other parties, to provide a much higher level of service. Initial cost would be $17m and about $7m per year in running costs.
Devonport Library Should the Devonport Library be extended to include the space occupied by the former visitor information centre?
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ We continue to use the former visitor information centre as a meeting room.
Option 2 0.1% rates increase Upgrade and extend the library by using the area vacated by the former visitor information centre.
Proposal 11: Coastal parkland
Are we buying enough land for future parks? We know the quality of the environment is important to you and this includes good access to our city's beautiful coastline for walking and playing. We want to know whether you want us to buy more coastal parkland for you and future generations to enjoy. We may also look into public/private partnerships to preserve and protect open space.
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ No additional funding for coastal parkland acquisition.
Option 2 2.2% rates increase Establish a fund of $25m with $2.6m per year for funding and maintenance costs.
Proposal 12: Kaikoura Island
Should we contribute to buying this island? We know that protecting our unique and valued environment is important to you. Should we contribute to a regional fund to buy this island outside our city's boundaries?
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ No contribution towards buying Kaikoura Island.
Option 2 0.2% rates increase Contribute $225,000 towards a regional fund to buy Kaikoura Island.
Option 3 0% rates increase ¤ Contribute $225,000 from the coastal parkland fund as set out in proposal 11, option 2. This option is dependent on proposal 11, option 2 being chosen.
Proposal 13: Northern Recreation Centre
Does our city have enough swimming pools? Our city has public swimming pools in Takapuna, Birkenhead and Glenfield. There are no public pools in Albany or East Coast Bays. Does this growing part of our city need one?
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ No funding for a northern recreation centre.
Option 2 2% rates increase Establish a northern recreation centre in Albany in 2009 at a cost of $12m and $2.2m running costs per year.
Option 3 0 - 2%* rates increase Establish a northern recreation centre in Albany in 2009 by entering into a public/private partnership. *Note: This depends on the extent of the public/private partnership.
Proposal 14: Refurbishment of 30 Downing St, Glenfield
How should we use our property at 30 Downing St in Glenfield? We could refurbish this property to create a recreation facility or continue to lease it as a privately-run children's recreation facility.
Option 1 0% rates increase ¤ Continue as a leased property.
0.2% rates increase Refurbish 30 Downing St as a recreation
facility at a cost of $700,000 and $190,000 running costs