February 2018 - Chairman's Report

16 Feb 2018, 9:44 AM

Strategic issues:

Long Term Plan (LTP)

In my report to the July council meeting last year I signalled that the council was considering significant changes to be included in our new LTP and that we would be talking to our community about the proposed changes early in 2018. Early 2018 is now upon us and those community 'Have your say' sessions will begin on 20 March.

The new plan has focused on the three things that the community has repeatedly told us are important to them, namely:

  1. Water quality;
  2. Pest management; and
  3. Natural hazard management.

Meeting those community aspirations will need more resources, initially in the form of a significant rate increase, which will also translate into more job opportunities. Some will say that we just need to become more efficient and not increase rates. Well as some of you will have noted, we have been working really hard on efficiencies over the last four years, delivering 'business as usual' with a 0% rate increase for each of those four years. I have yet to find another council in the country that has been able to achieve that!

Another significant change that we are proposing as part of this LTP process, is to change the rating system to more accurately indicate which areas of the council's activities ratepayers' funds are being invested in. This will make assessing the areas of activity that we are undertaking more transparent.

Over the last couple of months, when talking to people about the upcoming LTP consultation, I have been very careful to say that we are not trying to ram a significant rate increase down your throats, however, we have heard the community messages loud and clear that you want us to do more to improve water quality, do more to deal with pest management, and do more to deal with natural hazards like flooding, climate change, etc. So, we have worked out what it will cost to deal with those issues over a reasonable and affordable timeframe, and
now we want to know whether the community is still with us. Do you want us to do more? Do you want us to do less? Do you want us to do it faster, or do you want us to do it slower?

Please tell us so that we can be confident that we have your backing.