In three years, we’ve addressed overdue infrastructure upgrades, invested in pivotal community and environmental projects, and secured Nelson as a key regional economy. And importantly – we’ve got our finances back in shape.
After a successful first term as Mayor I am determined to see through the investment strategies, environmental projects and essential infrastructure upgrades that are underway and ensure that the city’s spending continues to deliver the most benefits to the largest number of residents.
Three years ago, when I stood for Mayor, I laid out my election priorities and now it’s time to look at my record.
What did I say I would do?
- spend responsibly/affordable rates/manageable debt – completed and continuing
- full budget review to get rid of waste – completed and continuing
- deliver an affordable programme of work – completed and continuing
- realistic Long Term and Annual Plans – completed and continuing
- find a workable parking solution – completed and continuing
- fair commercial rating – some gains but more to do
- cut red tape – new initiatives completed but work in progress and a priority game changer for next term
- sort the Trafalgar Centre – half the original budget and nearly there!
- improve Bridge Street – more to do but some good initiatives underway from the private sector
- kick start the Tahunanui Plan – first projects are in – the big gain is next term
- call for investment partners – call gone out and responses coming in with new development
- Stoke and Tahunanui Community Centres – Tahunanui done. Stoke – ready to go
- create better road and cycle links – small gains but work in progress
- library developments – Tahunanui is agreed and budget provided for Stoke
- upgrade stormwater – completed and continuing
- flood protection – completed and continuing
- water supply – completed and continuing
- sewerage systems – completed and continuing
- plan for natural hazards – completed and continuing
Roads and Waterfront
- maximise waterfront opportunities – progressed Rocks Rd Shared Pathway design, secured additional $3M funding from government for waterfront cycleway, and agreed on Haven Precinct
- advocated to NZTA to increase NZTA Funding Assistance Rate to Nelson – achieved
- deliver safer streets – with school zones and more crossing points and increased spend on footpaths
- Southern Link – work in progress. Made the best progress we’ve seen on a principled solution to our State Highway and arterial transport network in a decade – and ensured this was funded by central government not Nelson ratepayers.
- review the airsheds, dry wood programme, partnerships on innovation, balanced decisions on clean air – work in progress. RMA plan change undertaken and new plan rules that allow woodburners to be installed in some parts of Nelson. But battled lack of previous investment in air quality monitoring, the slowness of the RMA, a NES on Air Quality that needs reviewing, and a lack of science on the risks of cold homes. I’ll accept this as a small win and it’s definitely a Work in Progress for round two.
However, while the above was what I set out to achieve, once elected I found myself with another enormous challenge – the state of the finances! Errors had not been reported. When I took over as Mayor three years ago, I inherited an unworkable Long Term Plan for the City that had forecast rate rises of nearly 10% and that failed to address a backlog of infrastructure projects that was putting our environment and economy at risk. It quickly became clear to me that the plan I was expected to implement would cause rates and debt caps to be breached and change was needed urgently.
Given I got elected with what many described as a minority Council, I’ve shown that I can achieve a fair bit by being open, honest, genuinely having the community’s interests at heart – and knowing when it’s time to be aspirational and when it’s time to be pragmatic.
Long story short – three years later Nelson now has the best finances of any Council in NZ, the backlog of Infrastructure projects is in hand, we’re building our profile as a key regional economy, and people are proud to call Nelson home. It’s been a great challenge – I’ve loved it!