Serious stuff, but still time for fun
Who said long-term plans were all about infrastructure spending and stormwater upgrades?
Porirua City Council signed off its 10-year long term plan on June 4, with $300 million of ratepayers’ dollars set aside for capital expenditure. Slightly more than half of that is new spending, including $21m for the city centre rejuvenation.
But amid the normality and what mayor Nick Leggett described as ‘‘belts and braces’’ expenditure – on water supply, sewerage and stormwater, roads and footpaths – there were some items that will certainly raise spirits.
‘‘There has definitely been a focus on costs in this long-term plan, because our rates are high,’’ Leggett said.
‘‘Our debt is moderate, our per resident costs are in line with our peers and we are in good shape financially.
‘‘But we have to give people something that they can enjoy, like splash pads, and we need to keep building facilities, which costs money. We’re not big spenders in this plan and we’re not being profligate.’’
Major items that made it across the line included $500,000 for a water playground, to be built in 2016-17, $750,000 towards construction and maintenance of mountain bike trails and walkways around Colonial Knob and Spicer Forest and $130,000 for a jumping platform off Paremata Bridge in 2016-17.
Leggett said NZ Transport Agency would be pursued to contribute heavily towards the jumping platform.
Investment of $4m in improvements to Whitford Brown Ave – which includes pedestrian crossings and a right-hand turn into The Fjord – and an agreement to put $1m for a performing arts centre also featured.
The council reserved the right to put that $1m into a facility somewhere other than Aotea College if an agreement around public use could not be realised with the Ministry of Education.
Leggett said the performing arts centre money was not a blank cheque and clarity and strict guidelines would be needed.
Councillor Bronwyn Kropp agreed that infrastructure spending was not sexy or headlinegrabbing, but pointed out that five years ago much of Porirua’s pipes were failing.
‘‘The flooding on May 14 aside, that’s not happening now,’’ she said.
‘‘We should be immensely proud of what has been achieved [with this plan], especially in terms of the vision and relationships that have been forged with our community in so many areas.’’
Councillors often spend more time debating the small stuff and that happened with the $20,000 set aside for live streaming of council meetings.
The chief backer of the proposal, deputy mayor ‘ Ana Coffey, had her birthday soured when the proposal was soundly defeated.
‘‘It’s slightly embarrassing that we don’t have this [live streaming] because we’re supposed to be a young and vibrant city and this will give transparency and a level of accountability to what we do,’’ she said.
‘‘Democracy isn’t cheap and this [ cost] is already in existing budgets.’’
Aside from Leggett, her colleagues all disagreed, councillor Ken Douglas calling live streaming ‘‘an indulgence’’.
Other items in the long-term plan include funding for Te Ara Piko pathway, a Writers Walk, enhancement of playgrounds in eastern Porirua and better changing rooms and toilets for Ngatitoa Domain.
Items struck out included $30,000 towards the Sister City budget and $50,000 towards marketing the city.
Chief executive Gary Simpson complimented his staff, saying this long- term plan was the biggest long- term plan he had been involved with in Porirua.
The plan will be adopted on June 30.
Deputy mayor ‘Ana Coffey had her birthday soured when live streaming of council meetings was declined.