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Annual Plan submissions sought

25 Feb 2020, 1:59 PM

Public feedback is wanted on a range of proposed spending over the next year as the Northland Regional Council continues its increased long-term focus on helping native life flourish, caring for water and protecting communities from flood risk.

Council Chair Penny Smart says a formal consultation period on the council’s Draft Annual Plan 2020/21 runs from Wednesday 26 February until Friday 27 March 2020.

“It’s an opportunity for our communities to review the next financial year’s budget and ensure we’re on track to deliver the third year of our 10-year plan, the Long Term Plan (LTP) 2018-2028.

Chair Smart says with planning for a new LTP just around the corner in 2021, the council needs to ensure it’s planning ahead and introduce some elements of future-proofing. “We also need to check we’re able to keep up the momentum on the vital work that’s already underway.”

Council Deputy Chair Justin Blaikie says intended council spending over the 12 months to June 30 next year includes;

  • changes to information technology and data management ($592,000)
  • investment in water quality and quantity science to provide high quality data to aid future decision making, including a freshwater quality accounting system, modelling highly-allocated aquifers, Aupouri groundwater analysis, a national wells database, lake level sensors and continuous water monitoring stations ($435,000)
  • extra support for pest plant prevention ($110,000)
  • a climate change adaptation strategy ($105,000) to scope out the best way to approach this challenge
  • expanding the council’s poplar nursery ($78,000)
  • extra staff member to support council’s hydrology team ($73,700)
  • new investment in the way council supports its relationships with Māori ($142,700)
  • new investment in the way council engages with its communities ($44,700)
  • replacing the engines of the maritime vessel 'Ruawai' ($35,000).

The proposals outlined comprise both operating and capital spend.

“The operational spends are those that we need to fund from rates income if we’re going to complete them”.

As always, councillors were continually working to achieve the best value for money and striving to provide the best service to the community while keeping its rates as low as possible.

However, continuing the momentum of the LTP – and the associated extra spending entailed to help native life flourish, care for water and better protect communities from flood risk – would require additional financial support from ratepayers.

Councillor Blaikie says the council had foreshadowed this with the LTP already signalling an intended rate rise of four percent in the 2020/21 year.

“We're now proposing to increase this by another 4.6%, for a total increase of 8.6%. Over a year this extra 4.6% works out to an average of $13.60 per household (per year), for a year-on-year average increase of just over $30 and will take the average estimated rates bill for the year to around $390.”

Councillor Blaikie says the regional council had taken increased rates income from regional growth into account when considering its proposed new spending, as well as investment income which subsidised its activities.

“However, as always, our work overall is made possible by the feedback and support of our communities and the community groups that we work alongside, and we
want to check in with you as we make changes to our plans.”

Councillors and staff genuinely wanted to hear what the community thought of its plans and how they could be improved – and paid for.

He says more detail on the proposed spending over the 2020/21 financial year and how the council plans to fund them, can be found in its supporting information document at www.nrc.govt.nz/annualplan2020

Submissions are open until Friday 27 March.