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Council seeks feedback on payment options for future civic precinct

Civic precinct
Latest artist impression of the civic precinct - Te Manawataki o Te Papa

Tauranga City Council is seeking feedback on whether to use a levy or rates to pay for the community-funded portion of the future civic precinct - Te Manawataki o Te Papa.

The new civic precinct in the city centre will see the development of a library and community hub, civic whare (community meeting house), museum and exhibition gallery on the central city block bounded by Wharf, Willow, Harington and Durham streets. Upgrades to Baycourt and Tauranga Art Gallery, along with associated landscape and waterfront improvements, will also add to a greatly enhanced city centre environment.

Set to be developed over the next five years, the civic precinct will help revitalise the area and make it the economic, cultural and heritage heart of the region.

In July this year, the Commission gave the green light to move ahead with the development and reaffirmed its commitment to cap community rates-funded debt for the project at a maximum of $151.5 million. The additional funds to pay for this $306.3 million project will come from external funding sources, such as TECT’s recently approved $21 million grant and the $12.1m already received from central Government.

As part of its financial strategy, Council is proposing to use the Infrastructure Funding and Financing (IFF) Act as an alternative way to help fund the development.

Commission Chair Anne Tolley says an IFF levy would ensure the civic precinct projects have the financial backing they need to be delivered, with the cost of borrowing fixed for 30 years. It also spreads the cost across current and future city ratepayers – ensuring that everyone benefiting from Te Manawataki o Te Papa contributes towards the cost.

“As the fastest growing city in New Zealand, Tauranga is facing a number of infrastructure pressure points. It’s extremely important we continue to invest in the community facilities and infrastructure we need to keep up with our projected growth, while still carefully managing our debt position,” Anne says.

“The IFF levy helps us do that because it would sit outside our balance sheet and would not be classified as Council debt. That means we would keep enough ‘debt headroom’ to continue investing in other vital infrastructure, while staying well within our debt limits.”

The IFF levy approach would also provide funding certainty that Council can implement Te Manawataki o Te Papa in the proposed timeframes.

Anne says that if IFF funding is not used to cover the community-funded portion of Te Manawataki o Te Papa, it will still go ahead, but would be paid for through rates. As the draft 2024-34 Long-term Plan assumes the levy will be in place, if it is not approved, debt levels and rates would increase above those to be presented in the draft 2024-34 Long-term Plan, and other infrastructure projects may need to be put on hold. She also notes that IFF funding would be subject to Government approval and achieving competitive borrowing terms.

Have your say on whether the community-funded portion of Te Manawataki o Te Papa should be paid through an IFF levy or though rates.

Community consultation is now open and closes on Friday, 6 October. For more information and to share your thoughts, head to: letstalk.tauranga.govt.nz/levyproposal

Posted: Sep 14, 2023,
Categories: General, City centre,


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