Monday, May 27, 2024
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Planning can be challenging

The Tararua District Council’s draft Long Term Plan and public Consultation Document is a significant milestone, going forward for Tararua.

There has been an incredible effort putting both together and dealing with considerable challenges and tight timeframes to produce a quality document and the plan for our next 10 years. This has been a mammoth effort, with everyone within the Council working together to bring these documents together.

Now it is time for residents to have their say and we are seeking your engagement by attending consultation meetings and putting in a submission, either good or bad. It’s important for us to engage with you and increase your understanding of the complex issues Council faces. We continue to experience significant cost increases, as has every house and business throughout New Zealand, due to much higher inflation than planned for.

It is no secret that the funding system for Local Government is broken and, as a nation, we must have a conversation about what is affordable.

Our commitment is to help our community to thrive. As a Council, we’ve had tough but honest conversations around the table, and we’ve been advised we’ll face turbulence with high risk for the next 18 months before we get some certainty from central Government, who continue to push more compliance and regulation of our way.

There are several consultation items that we want to hear from you about. A key item in the document is the option of rates smoothing, this has been added to assist with affordability during this cost-of-living crisis, however this does come at a cost, and we are keen to hear from the community on whether they support this option or not.

There has been strong debate around the Council table between financial prudence and affordability, which is difficult to define for all people.

Council charges rates for the services it provides, and we have felt the impacts of inflationary pressures. In trying to maintain affordability and provide essential services to our community, we are constantly trying to find the happy medium. We revisit our budgets annually, weighing up necessities and the nice-to-haves.

We are taking advantage of the increase in our Funding Assistance Rate [FAR] from Waka Kotahi/NZTA in July, which means they will cover 73 per cent of our roading maintenance and renewals costs, an increase of 4 per cent on previous years. This injection of an additional $7 million from Waka Kotahi/NZTA will make a substantial difference to the resilience of our network of almost 2000 kilometres of roads.

A hot topic has been heavy vehicles and the damage caused to our roading network by a single 50-tonne logging truck having the same impact on our local roads as 8000 car movements. While initially, the focus was on logging trucks, the largest impact appears to be from dairy tankers. Our Council team have carried out some great work to understand these implications.

We are constantly looking at areas to make savings and efficiencies moving forward and highlighting the potential rationalisation of buildings we own, integrating some of our services, along with full reviews of our swimming pools and campgrounds.

As a council, we are currently grappling with significant uncertainty, which makes planning for the future challenging.

Therefore, our focus remains on understanding our assets, identifying priorities, and determining the most cost-effective strategies. While our current plan spans 10 years, we recognise that adjustments will be necessary as we gather more information.

Our commitment is to actively engage and communicate with our community, ensuring that everyone is informed and involved in this journey forward.

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