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Busy agenda for Porirua City Council

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Responding to the pressures of growth in Porirua were themes that arose in reports considered by the Porirua City Council last night at its final meeting for 2019.

The first report sought Council approval to publicly notify the proposed plan change 18 Plimmerton Farm. The plan change seeks to rezone 384 hectares of rural land to enable up to 2000 new dwellings, including a retirement village, and is a key component of Council’s response to Porirua’s housing shortage as well as providing different types of housing in the city.

During public speaking time, the Council heard from representatives of Friends of Taupo Swamp. In light of recent flooding in the city, they came to ask the Council to delay a decision on the matter until they had read a report just received from the QEII National Trust which owns most of Taupo Swamp.

Staff said approving public notification of the plan change now means it is available for the public to digest and become familiar with before the formal consultation stage occurs in the new year. 

“This process is simply to agree to notify the plan change and formal consultation will take place next year,”  said General Manager Policy, Planning and Regulatory Services Nic Etheridge.

The Council lodged an application to use the Streamlined Planning Process with the Minister for the Environment in October 2019.

“Council is yet to receive a decision from the Minister for the Environment on whether we will follow the Streamlined Planning Process and if that’s not approved, we will carry out the usual plan change process under the Resource Management Act.  Whichever process is followed, the public will have further opportunities to have their say.”

Council approved the recommendation to publicly notify the proposed plan change.

A second paper on the 2020/21 Annual Plan (AP) advised the Council of the financial challenges surrounding the development of the AP within acceptable rate increases.  

Chief Financial Officer Roy Baker said the Council will manage the capital programme within the current fiscal envelope.

“However, operating costs for roading and the 3 Waters infrastructure (drinking water, wastewater and stormwater) are under pressure because of the significant growth we’re experiencing in Porirua. These additional costs could amount to an extra 2.5% rate increase.”

The Council agreed to a workshop in late February 2020 that will set out the full financial detail, rate impact by sector and provide some suggestions where savings through levels of service changes could be achieved to reduce the rate burden.  Any significant changes to levels of service to reduce rate levels would need to be managed as part of the LTP process.

Council also considered a paper on whether to continue to provide crematorium services at Whenua Tapu with the current cremator near the end of its life.  After feedback from the public consultation showed strong support for continuing the service, the Council agreed  to  replace the cremator and upgrade the chapel and workspace at the crematorium.

An additional $1.4 million will be required in the Long-term Plan and the rates impact for this additional borrowing will be 0.17%.

The last item on the agenda was the review of the Chief Executive’s employment and the Council and unanimously agreed to extend Wendy Walker’s tenure for a further term of two years from its expiry on 31 August 2020.

Mayor Anita Baker thanked Ms Walker for her efforts working for Porirua City.

“During her time as Chief Executive Ms Walker has built a strong team of capable staff who serve our city well in their areas of expertise. She leads with a calm head and doesn’t seek the limelight but behind the scenes her hard work and years of experience in local government have proven invaluable to our organisation.”

12 Dec 2019