Making sure we have a range of recreation facilities and opportunities for our community is vital for the health and wellbeing of all of us. A multi-use aquatic centre is central to this. Water safety and education, fitness and exercise, learn-to-swim, relaxation and social connection are all reasons why an aquatic centre is important for our community.
Napier’s population is growing and as it does we are outgrowing our current aquatic facilities. On top of that, our current aquatic centre is ageing and we need to make sure it is still operational while we decide the best way forward for the redevelopment. We are consulting with the public on a potential new development but we do know it will take at least five years to build. In the meantime, the current facility is in need of remedial work so we can keep it operating. New condition assessments have identified that we need to spend more than we had set aside for repair and maintenance.
We have some challenges we need to fix straight away and issues we can prevent if we do some of the work as soon as possible.
In 2022/23, we are proposing to set aside an additional $4 million of capital funding to address the immediate issues, above the $327K we set aside in the Long Term Plan. We will 'loan fund' this work, which will add 0.3% to rates for the next year. Council considered several different funding packages (including up to $10.9M) before deciding to allocate $4M in 2022/23. Additional funding might be needed for further upkeep. This would be confirmed through our Annual Plan process for 2023/24.
We believe this strikes the right balance between ensuring our current pool complex continues to operate by reducing the risk of unplanned closure, and not spending too much on a facility that will be decommissioned in the future. We did consider closing the facility, however, we decided this would not be consistent with our Long Term Plan. Ideally, the Napier Aquatic Centre would remain open and accessible up until the completion of a new facility. We recognise the benefits a full aquatic facility brings to our community’s social, cultural and physical wellbeing.
For more information about the options and the proposal, see the Council reports and minutes on the supporting documents page here.
We have completed a comprehensive review of the i-SITE and options for its future will be presented to Council in April 2022. We are looking at the building itself, which we know needs some fixes, as well as the services the i-SITE provides our locals and visitors. The review considers how the i-SITE should look in the future, options for its location and the services it may provide in a changing tourism environment.
Some of the money we use to fund projects and work programmes comes from tourism revenue.
In Napier, we get tourism revenue from Kennedy Park Resort, The National Aquarium of New Zealand, Napier Conferences and Events operating from Napier War Memorial Centre, Napier Municipal Theatre, the i-Site Visitor Centre, Par2 MiniGolf and McLean Park.
All of these have been particularly affected by the lack of overseas travellers, the extended lockdowns in Auckland and by the general hesitancy to travel over a summer period filled with uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic. With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, our financial modelling suggests we may be facing a $1.5M shortfall in our anticipated revenue from tourism activities in 2022/23.
In 2020/21, we anticipated a downturn in our income from our tourist facilities and decided that any shortfalls would be covered by our two pre-existing reserve funds; essentially Council’s savings. The shortfall never eventuated in 2020/21, with revenues bouncing back quicker than expected following the first COVID-19 lockdown.
As we did not use these reserves budgets in 2020/21, we can now use them for our 2022/23 shortfall. These two reserves have balances of $9.5m and $6.4m respectively. It is important to note this represents a different approach to the one we proposed in our Long Term Plan, where we planned to fund any shortfall through loans.
In December 2021 we agreed to a $500,000 per year contribution to the establishment of a new regional development entity.
This includes an increased cost of $341,600 in addition to existing budget that would be re-directed. This new entity is being created to help Hawke’s Bay businesses unify and speak to a national audience with one voice. Our annual contribution equates to a 29% contribution in the regional context and will reduced by $45,000 and $38,000 respectively over the next two years due to already-secured Central Government funding.
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