Every three years Council does a Long Term Plan (LTP) that details activities, projects, funding and importantly issues and challenges facing our district.
"Council's Draft LTP will be open for public consultation from Friday 20 April so keep an eye open for how to make a submission," said Mayor Jenny Shattock. "We are very keen to hear from our community."
Council is focussed on investing now to future proof our district. More properties and businesses in the South Waikato means more people live here which will spread the rates load in the future.
After a long period of stagnation and decline, our District is growing. This brings some pressures, particularly on our infrastructure.
Council is already doing a District Plan Review in Putāruru to re-zone land to residential to make residential development easier and quicker. In our plan we propose doing similar reviews in other towns over the coming years.
"We must take advantage of this growth while keeping development affordable," said Mayor Shattock.
"The need to attract more business and create more jobs has never been stronger," continued Mayor Shattock. "Extensive community consultation during the development of the LTP indicates that more jobs is the most important issue for our people."
Wai Ora/Healthy Rivers will have a significant impact on our District and Council needs to prepare for this.
"We fully support the intent of Healthy Rivers - to clean up our rivers," explains Mayor Shattock. "However we are very concerned about the affordability on our community."
This has been estimated that Healthy Rivers could take $35million out of the Upper Waikato catchment and affect 370 jobs.
"Given the South Waikato District is two thirds of this catchment area, the impact on our social and economic wellbeing will be significant," she continued.
Chief Executive Craig Hobbs explains that an aligned cost to Healthy Rivers is stringent wastewater requirements and plant upgrades.
"There are significant costs associated with this and we must plan for this cost," said Mr Hobbs. "We are asking for your thoughts at this early stage about the future of our wastewater treatment plants. More detailed options have yet to be finalised and consulted on."
Solid waste remains a key issue. The Waste Management and Minimisation Plan is also available for consultation; community feedback is encouraged.
"We have a big decision that we need to make in the next year or so. Right now, we are looking for a steer from our community on three broad solid waste management options - develop another landfill cell in Tokoroa next to the existing one, transport our waste to a commercial landfill outside our district or look into collaboration on a new regional facility," said Mr Hobbs. "All options require significant capital cost and ongoing operational funding."
Legislative requirements continue to be pushed on to Local Government, with requirements such as increased monitoring, inspections and administration and health and safety requirements adding further pressure on to our Council and ratepayers.
Ben Smit, Council's Deputy Chief Executive explains the impact of new rating valuations due out later in 2018.
"The new valuations impact rates from the 2019-20 year. We are anticipating a significant increase in urban residential properties, as high as an average of 67%; and 35% for lifestyle properties," said Mr Smit.
This means that residential and lifestyle properties could see a rate increase in year 2 of between 10% and 20%, depending on the rateable value of the property. If the value of your property has risen by more than the average, you will pay a higher proportion of the total, and therefore your rates will probably go up by more than the average. If the value of your property has risen by less than the average, your rates will probably rise by less than the average.
Mr Smit explains, "We are proposing to move the Uniform Charge from 29.9% to 25% for the 2019-20 year. Reducing this percentage means more of the rate is moved to the General Rate levied on capital value."
Mr Smit points out that lower value properties benefit from this change.
"Council has proposed this change to lessen some of the significant rate increases urban residential properties will have in 2019-20 as a result of the anticipated increases in district revaluation," he explained.
These many pressures has resulted in a proposed average rate revenue increase for next year (2018-19) of 7.7%.
"Our proposal is higher than normal and we appreciate that many in our community will be anxious about this," said Mayor Shattock. "There are significant challenges facing our district and we need to address them. We need your feedback."
The average rate revenue increase for the following year (2019-20) is proposed to be 8.7%. The proposed average over the full 10 years is 4.7%.
The Consultation Document will be available in hard copy from Council offices and libraries and online on our website.
Consultation is open from Friday 20 April to 4pm on Friday 18 May.
Keep an eye on Council's website and Facebook page and in local media for the details.
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