State of the City
Rates rises of 3.8 per cent look likely for the 2016-17 year; the population is growing; tourism is up; and capital works project completion rates need improvement.
These were among the issues covered by Mayor Grant Smith during his second annual State of the City Address at the Palmerston North Lunch Club on Friday, a year on from taking office in 2015.
Basically, despite a lack of coordinated planning for a ‘‘struggling’’ CBD, and only slightly more than a 50 per cent completion rate for capital works, Grant says the city ‘‘is in good shape and growing at a sustainable rate’’.
‘‘There are some challenges, but I believe we are up to those challenges.’’
Residents can look forward now to a time of ‘‘active governance’’, with an emphasis on enabling the CBD ‘‘to have more soul’’.
The city is also taking on more of a regional leadership role with its neighbouring authorities. A regional business growth plan called Accelerate 25 aims to double the region’s GDP by 2025.
While signalling that overall rates increases will be slightly down on last year’s 10-Year Plan projections, Kelvin Grove and Ashhurst home-owners may face higher rises due to significantly increased property valuations.
If people wanted lower rates increases, they had to decide what they were prepared to do without.
‘‘It’s a balancing act to maintain [an acceptable] level of service.’’
Land and property prices may be up, he says, but they are still affordable. The city population is also up. ‘‘In the year to last November we gained a further 1000-plus residents.’’
With 86,000 people, Palmerston North is the second youngest city in the country, with an average age of 33 years. Its residential consents are up 32 per cent on the previous year.
Tourism is another growth area with Palmerston North now the country’s tenth largest tourist destination.
Among projects awaiting completion are the shared pathways to Linton and the next stage of the pathway joining the city with Ashhurst. Grant would also like to speed up the city to Feilding pathway.
Upcoming projects include the creation of the Manawatu River Park, the Wildbase Recovery Centre in the Esplanade, a military museum in the Maori Battallion Hall, the $25million Food Safety Science and Research Centre, and the Univer-City programme with its focus on ‘‘becoming a real university city rather than a city with a university’’.
Palmerston North mayor Grant Smith delivers his state of the city address at the Palmerston North Lunch Club on Friday.