Council adopts Long Term Plan

Council adopts Long Term Plan

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

After months of planning, workshops, public meetings and submissions the Council adopted its 2012 – 2022 Long Term Plan last Friday (29 June).

The Plan, which outlines the activities and services the Council intends to carry out over the next ten years, proposes a rate increase of approximately 4.4% for 2012/13 (down from the original proposed 4.8%). The average annual total rate increase over the next ten years (including inflation) is 4.3%.

South Taranaki Mayor, Ross Dunlop, says the Council has taken a prudent and conservative approach in planning for the next ten years.

“Over the last five years the Council has invested heavily in improving the district’s water and wastewater infrastructure and community facilities. Because we are now in the enviable position of having completed many of the costly upgrades that many Council’s are still faced with, the next ten years will be largely about consolidation and maintenance,” says Mr Dunlop.

However, while the medium to long term predictions for economic growth in Taranaki are also good, the global economic downturn and ongoing economic uncertainty in Europe has influenced Council’s planning.

“As a result of these uncertainties and in an effort to keep a tight rein on expenditure we have reduced some previously budgeted expenditure, increased our level of debt repayments and are trialling new technology at Hawera wastewater treatment ponds which has the potential to save $3 million,” he says.

“The Council’s key focus over the next three years is on completing our district water infrastructure upgrade programme and planning for our future waste disposal needs as the Colson Road landfill nears the end of its life,” says Mr Dunlop.

Mr Dunlop says the challenge for any Council is striking the right balance between providing the services and facilities communities expect, while keeping rates at an affordable level.

Key Decisions

Council will increase its annual debt repayments from $1.2 million to $3 million.

63% of total expenditure over the next ten years is on the core services of Roading (24%), Water (21%) and Waste Services (18%).

The total annual roading expenditure over the next 10 years is approx $87.2 million.

Over the next 3 years Council will complete major upgrades to the Eltham ($3.3 million), Opunake ($2.29 million), Waimate West ($14.2 million) and Rahotu ($2.28 million) water treatment plants.  A $2.28 million upgrade is also planned for the Inaha Water Treatment Plant in 2015/16, but this depends on the outcome of the rural agricultural drinking water standard being developed by the Ministry of Health. $590,000 has been budgeted to replace water pipes in Patea.

$300,000 has been budgeted each year for the next ten years to upgrade Hawera’s western main sewer line. $4 million has also been budgeted to de-sludge the district’s effluent ponds; however this figure could reduce significantly if a trial using innovative biological technology to break the sludge down naturally proves successful.

The district’s pensioner housing stock will be progressively upgraded over the next 5 years at a cost of $1.1 million. The 6 bedsit units at Meredith St in Patea (which are no longer suitable for older people and have no tenants aged 65 yrs or over) will be sold and any funds received reinvested in the housing upgrades.

The scope and budget for the Hawera Holiday Park redevelopment has been significantly reduced from $1.6 million to $450,000 with the additional proviso that a cost/benefit analysis is done before any funds are committed to the project.

$25,000 has been budgeted for a feasibility study looking at the viability of developing a new library/cultural facility in Hawera as the existing library is too small.

Council will support the Governments Warmer Homes insulation scheme by providing the ability for property owners who want to take up the offer but don’t have all the cash up front, to loan the remainder. There will be no cost to the ratepayer as all costs will be recovered through interest payments.

Kaponga swimming pool will get a major upgrade next year.

Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust will get $50,000 each year for the next 3 years.

The Sandfords Event Centre in Opunake has had annual funding increased to $40,000.

In an effort to encourage good dog ownership and discourage irresponsible ownership the Council has reduced fees for ‘Selected Owners’ and rural dog registrations and increased the penalties for dogs that have been impounded.

A copy of the Council’s 2012 – 2022 Long Term Plan can be viewed at any Council LibraryPlus centre, the Administration Building on Albion Street, Hawera or on our website www.southtaranaki.com