Investing for the future

While we are doing the best we can to make our rates affordable, we still need to make some long-term investments. These will make our city more liveable and attractive and set us up for financial stability over the long-term.

How we fund investment for the future

While it might seem counterintuitive to be talking about reducing services to save money, and also be looking at investing for the future; it’s important to understand that these two things are funded very differently.

Investing for the future does not impact our rates so much in the short term because we generally use borrowing to pay for these types of projects. This means that the cost is spread over many years, and also across future ratepayers who benefit from the investment in long-term assets. Without borrowing for investment into capital projects, communities would simply not have the infrastructure that enables them to exist and grow.

We are planning a number of projects that will contribute to this long-term goal and we need the community to help us decide which investments will best enhance our district. Please note – these projects will not impact next year’s rates rise; these are longer-term investments and will be incorporated into the budgets for future years.

Funding of Core Infrastructure – Roading, Footpaths and Three Waters

Increased regulatory standards and inflation are substantially pushing costs up for roading, footpaths and three waters infrastructure. To avoid our assets deteriorating further, we’re proposing to increase the level of funding that’s invested in our core infrastructure to get us to a reasonable state for the future. This cost would be spread across a number of years to minimise the impact it would have on ratepayers.

You can read more about the background and options around the funding of core infrastructure on page 30 & 31 of the Consultation Document. 

Hotel and Carpark

Whanganui has long aspired to attract a hotel so we can attract more large-scale events and support attendance at existing ones such as the Whanganui New Zealand Masters Games. With our commitment to stimulate growth within the district, the council is proposing to take the lead by investing in the development of a suitable hotel and car-parking facility  subject to the return of a detailed business case which shows the hotel would be financially viable. The hotel, if it proceeded, would generate new income, easing the burden for ratepayers as this income can be used to offset rates, as well as providing economic and social benefits for the district as a whole. 

You can read more about the background and options around the development of a hotel and car-parking facility on page 32 & 33 of the Consultation Document. 

Royal Whanganui Opera House

The Royal Whanganui Opera House is a landmark cultural icon, and while the theatre has seen a lot of care over the years there are aspects of the building that no longer meet required standards. Significant investment is required to provide suitable services to touring and community shows. The cost of doing this ranges from $150,000 up to $33 million, and the council’s recommendation is that we build a new stage house and implement a new fly system at a cost of $17 million. Funding opportunities will be investigated, with our aim being to obtain $8 million from external sources.

You can read more about the background and options around the Royal Whanganui Opera House on page 34-36 of the Consultation Document. 

Marae development

The Whanganui district is home to nearly twenty Marae. As well as being a central part of Iwi and Hapū culture, Marae also help our communities to connect, and they provide a critical role in civil defence and emergency management responses, amongst many other functions.

As part of the previous Three Waters reform process, the central government’s “Better Off Funding” scheme helped pay for improvements to Marae, such as repairing roofs, building new septic tanks and connecting Marae to the drinking water supply network. However, this funding will no longer be available after 2027.

We are proposing that once the central government funding runs out, from 2028 onward the council will provide $500,000 per year of grant funding across all Marae in the district for upgrades until 2034. This will be $3.5 million in total over seven years.

You can read more about the background and options around Marae development on page 38 of the Consultation Document. 

Wanganui Surf Lifeguard Service 

The Wanganui Surf Lifeguard Service has been providing patrol and rescue services to the Whanganui coastline for over 115 years along with other community activities. However, the current lifesaving facility is at the end of its serviceable life and is a considerable barrier to training and development. 

It’s been determined that the most efficient and cost-effective path forward will be to build a new facility. The Surf Lifesaving Service is seeking $5-7 million for a rebuild, which includes an upgrade to include community facilities. The council proposes to provide $1 million, where the lifeguard service will seek the remainder from other sources. 

You can read more about the background and options around the Wanganui Surf Lifeguard Service on page 40 & 41 of the Consultation Document. 

Pākaitore Reserve Paving and Crossing

Pākaitore Reserve is a significant historic site and reserve in Whanganui. It is proposed we develop a pavement and raised road crossing on Taupō Quay, between Bates Street and Market Place. This will restore the link between land and awa and improve pedestrian safety. The estimated cost of this project is upward of $750,000. As it is unlikely to meet Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency criteria for subsidisation, it would need to be entirely funded by the council.

You can read more about the background and options around the Pākatoire Reserve paving and crossing on page 42 of the Consultation Document. 

Rapanui Road Trail

Rapanui Road is the long stretch that connects State Highway 3 past Westmere to Kai Iwi Beach (Mowhanau). It is becoming increasingly busy, but its narrow width makes it unsafe for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. A wide grass verge could be converted into a shell rock trail. This project would occur in three stages requiring a total of $2.05 million. We propose to offer full funding for this project, provided a feasibility study is conducted first. If this project proceeds, then external funding will also be pursued to reduce the total cost to ratepayers. 

You can read more about the background and options around the Rapanui Road Trail on page 43 of the Consultation Document. 

Read the Long-Term Plan Consultation Document(PDF, 12MB)