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Submission

Submission to Wanganui District Council annual plan 2010/11

Our submission to the annual plan focused on three key areas, the costs of the new information centre, the District plan review and the Economic Development activity.Our submission can be viewed @ www.wanganuichamber.co.nz
The Council, have responded on the issues as follows:

Information centre:
Basic costs and facts can be found on www.wanganui.govt.nz . Details of income generating elements are projected as $27,000 p.a for the Cafe and $18,000p.a for the upstairs apartment. The approved cost of the project is $438,000 over original budget which includes an apartment not in the original budget. Council increased the project budget from $1.0 Million to $1.56 Million. The remaining funding will come from borrowing.

Riverfront Development:
Member’s comments regarding traffic issues on the Riverfront will be included in Councils Riverfront development consultation process.

Economic Development Activity
Operational costs for the Economic Development activity are as follows:

 Promotional Levy   
$180,000
 i-site operating costs   
 $60,000
 Impact fund   
 $150,000
 Arts Sculpture   
 $50,000
 Business Development   
 $54,000
 International Relations   
 $30,000
 Masters Games   
 $40,000
 Billy Webb festival   
 $40,000
 Vero Car Rally   
 $30,000
 Wanganui Education Institute-Glass School   
 $95,000
 Conference Bureau   
 $46,000
 Research   
 $30,000
 Other operating costs   
 $232,000
 Salaries and Wages   
 $475,000
 Debt servicing    
 $4,000
 Council overhead   
 $291,000
 Total    
$1,807

At its latest Board meeting the Chamber of Commerce has requested further information with respect to Salaries and wages, Other operating costs, Council overhead, Arts sculpture, the Billy Webb festival and Vero car Rally.

If you have any comments to make with regard to this information please email us at info@wanganuichamber.co.nz

Submission to the Wanganui District Councils 10 Year plan

2009/2019

The Wanganui Chamber of Commerce would like the Wanganui District Council to make changes to its plans which will relieve pressure on a business community that is experiencing some of the most difficult trading conditions in the past two decades with little real prospect of things improving in the short term.

1

Keep the Council funding allocation across farming, residential and commercial ratepayers for funding the Cooks Gardens activity the same as it is this year. Ref: Page 18 of 202. The Council plans to adjust the allocation of rates to 75% commercial, 5% farming and 20% residential.

The Chamber has provided detailed information to its members (Ref Appendix 1) and requested feedback on this proposed change. We survey our members and received 42 responses: 39 said they disagreed with the Policy change, 3 said they agreed (1 of those was the Director of Finance at the Council). The survey results are at appendix 2.

2

To remove a proposal to charge a $50 levy to commercial properties (per separately used or inhabited part of a rating unit and $5 to all residential and farming properties to raise $180,000 to promote and market Wanganui.

We put this to our members in an email (Ref appendix 3) to request feedback on this proposal. 47 members responded: 30 said they did not support this proposal and 17 said they did. (1 of these being a member of the promotions committee). There were some very strong comments made against this proposal. The Chamber does not support this proposal for the fact that over the past 3 years the District Council has failed in its marketing of the District. The other major concern is that we have not been given a copy of the $40,000 Visitor Strategy Document so we can make an informed decision on the best way forward. This is intolerable given we were asked for and took the time to provide input into it. The regions track record in Marketing is poor with a recent cheap and nasty rebranding effort for the District coupled with a failed amalgamation of Destination Wanganui and Enterprise Wanganui. We have a reputable Tourism operator reporting to us their revenue is down up to 15% on two years ago. This is a disgrace. Before any more money is rated from the commercial sector there needs to be transparency and quality engagement with the commercial ratepayers. Chamber requested in its submission to the annual plan last year that a full breakdown of the economic development expenditure be revealed in the plan. (Ref: Appendix 4)

The response we received is tabled at Appendix 4 and does not provide a satisfactory response to this question. How can the Commercial sector engage or have any confidence in this Council if information is being withheld. Let’s face it resorting to the use of the Official information Act is hardly promoting good relations between the Council and the Wanganui Business community. This type of behavior promotes weak economic policy and ultimately a weak local economy at a time when Wanganui is struggling. At no time in its history does Wanganui need to be working together more. We need to get rid of egos and create an environment of Trust and cooperation where ideas flow and there is a positive energy for building a future for the District.

3

The borrowing of $1.03 Million dollars to relocate an information center.

The Chamber does not support this borrowing until more information is provided to the Commercial ratepayers about how this money will be spent. The information age is changing with more tourists available through mobile phones and other electronic devices. Whilst some form of shop front for information provision and assistance is still relevant the size and scope of any revamp or relocation needs to be capped to reflect the current state of the Councils budget. The building of a new information centre will not create any more wealth for Wanganui’s commercial ratepayers. It will simply provide a more convenient and comfortable place for visitors to pick up brochures, get advice on where to go and go to the lavatory. The current information at its current site has recently won numerous awards and our augment is, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it.

4

Economic Development Activity: Pages 118-125.

We request that before any further money is spent in this area that the details of current expenditure in this activity and what is proposed are properly detailed to the business community. The plan shows $1.683 million of ratepayer’s money, 75% of which will come from the commercial ratepayers without providing a clear view of how this money is to be invested. Again this is a disgrace. There are salaries and wages in the economic development activity of $446,000 and we haven’t a clue as to what these people are doing. And a proposed operating budget of $941,000. The Chamber feels investment in growing the economy is vital but it needs to be done in partnership with business and not in isolation.

Attachments:

 
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Level 1,156 Victoria Ave, Wanganui
P.O Box 88, Wanganui 4540
Phone: 06 3450080 - Fax: 3451182
Email:
info@wanganuichamber.co.nz