Wellington Scoop

Lavery releases pre-election report and says we are “thriving and growing”

Press Release – Wellington City Council
Wellington City Council Chief Executive Kevin Lavery has released his 2019 Pre-election Report today, saying: “The Report is intended to stimulate discussion about key issues for Wellington ahead of this year’s local body elections.”

The Pre-election Report can be read here.

“It is aimed at both voters and candidates so both have the context in which to make their decisions to vote and/or stand. Successful candidates will understand the context in which they will assume their duties as a Mayor or Councillor for Wellington.

“It has been a busy three years and Wellington is thriving and growing,” said Mr Lavery. “We are in a good position because of a lot of hard work. We have met and are still meeting challenges from the Kaikoura earthquake while continuing to deliver over 400 high-quality services to over 220,000 people every single day,” he said.

The report sets out the key challenges and opportunities facing Wellington and the Council over the coming three years and beyond, including: the operating constraints of a growth environment, resilience and climate change, transport and urban development, affordable and social housing and enhancing Wellington’s creative capital status. The report sets out a number of important decisions the new Council will need to make.

The report also sets out the Council’s financial position.

Mr Lavery said: “The Council’s financial position is strong. This is reflected in our AA credit rating from Standard and Poor’s.”

As part of the 2018-28 Long-term Plan the Council agreed to a ten-year $2.3 billion capital expenditure programme. Of that funding:

– $1.2 billion will go to core transport and three waters infrastructure
– $1.2 billion will fund asset renewal
– $0.18 billion will be invested into responding to the city’s growth needs
– $0.93 billion will be allocated towards service-level improvements.

“At the same time, the city faces significant resilience issues arising out of the Kaikoura earthquake. Some $257million in lost commercial rateable value, over $200million of capital projects adding pressure to the rates line for seismic strengthening projects for the Town Hall and St James Theatre, contributions to the Unreinforced Masonry programme and water resilience, in addition to that has been $30million for temporary solutions to the closure of the Central Library,” he said.

The Council’s debt position is conservative and ranges from 120 to 167% of annual income over the next 10 years, well below the Council’s 175% cap. Debt is used to fund the Council’s investment in long-term assets and is spread to share both the cost and the benefit across the life of the asset.

The Council’s starting borrowing position of $546 million equates to $2551 per person in Wellington. This is equivalent to a household earning $75,000 a year having a mortgage of just under $95,000 and an investment portfolio worth $85,200.

“We are in great shape, both as a city and as an organisation. There are challenges ahead, but there are opportunities ahead. The next three years will be pivotal to Wellington’s long-term future and to ensure we stay in great shape.

“However, there are constraints and this will likely impact the forthcoming 2021-31 Long-term Plan. There will need to be some reprioritisation and re-sequencing of the Council’s work with longer time-scales than those agreed in the 2018-28 Long-term Plan,” he said.

DomPost: Lavery defines seismic issues and budget challenges


  1. Mathew Biars, 24. July 2019, 6:00

    A debt position of 167% of annual income is the red flag of an org’s financial mismanagement which follows the steady privatization of prime assets and services and implementing a costly erroneous new code. To add insult to injury we are stung with $30million of “temporary solutions” for our closed but undamaged Library. The Long term plan sounds disproportionate and vague at best. What are the $.93 billion in “service level improvements.” Any alleged, but not stated, “commercial damages” from the Kaikoura earthquake should have been claimed and paid out by now.

  2. michael, 24. July 2019, 16:26

    If WCC gave structural engineer Adam Thornton the professional courtesy of listening to him, we could spend approximately $28million to get the library and Clarks Cafe up and running relatively quickly. The rest of the work could be then be progressively carried out, rather than spending $30million unnecessarily opening hubs which do not provide the community life that has grown up around the library. One has to think there is an ulterior motive for not doing this.

  3. Golem, 24. July 2019, 17:12

    I think you’re on to something michael. Perhaps this quote from a Dompost article today sheds some light on it – “Lavery said the bills due for Civic Square could be offset by the sale or lease of land there to generate activity on the square and cash.”
    We have a council being run like a business instead of a community organisation and as such they’re trying to make as much money as they can wherever possible. They’ve spent years trying to flog off every square inch of the waterfront and now it seems they’re casting their eye around for other assets/land that can be commercialised.

  4. Hel, 24. July 2019, 19:45

    Did I read that correctly, $30m for temporary solutions to the closed central library? This has to be a joke, that would have gone a long way to getting the repair job to fix the library. Some serious questions need to be asked of whoever is responsible for blowing $30m on temporary solutions, looks like unaccountable incompetence.

  5. Andrew, 24. July 2019, 21:30

    I bet the mayor is relieved that the committee he headed up in 2013 did not end up closing community libraries.
    When discussing the Brooklyn Library:
    ‘The state of the building meant any strengthening work would render the building unsuitable for a library, as it would require columns being installed, disrupting the open-plan layout needed for a library.’
    Well, guess what. The work was completed and it is still a perfectly good library.

  6. michael, 24. July 2019, 21:58

    Golem you are so right. This council is all about vanity projects and flogging off everything they can to pay for them.
    Why do we need to spend millions on a covered arena for a few concerts per year. Plus well over $100 million on a convention centre that will hardly be used – especially when there are not enough hotel rooms to service it. In the meantime, the library which is the heart of the city, used by a million Wellingtonians each year, is left closed and ignored while we just want it fixed and reopened. It is heartbreaking looking at what was once our iconic civic square, the envy of other cities. It is fenced off and desolate. Infuriating how our councillors have forgotten what they are there for under the local government act.
    Namely, to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities. And to meet the current and future needs of communities.

  7. michael, 24. July 2019, 22:01

    Andrew – the same thing could be easily done to our central library but the council seem to have other plans.