Council adopts Annual Plan 2023
Released: Thursday 29 June 2023
South Waikato District Council adopted the 2023-24 Annual Plan at a Council meeting held on Thursday 29 June.
Council knows the decision to adopt the Annual Plan at an average rates revenue increase of 18.5% will be painful for some in our community.
“This was a hard decision to make,” says Mayor Gary Petley. “It is Council’s role to make decisions not just for the here and now but for future generations.
“Unfortunately, we know that the longer we delay addressing the fundamental financial sustainability problem coupled with testing financial challenges and a constrained market, the more severe the correction will need to be when it comes,” continued Mayor Petley. “Should we have to go down that road, this might mean even greater increases in rates and significant reductions in services.
Chief Executive Susan Law believes it is the right thing for us to do, for our future generations.
“We need to address the issues; continue to look at the services we provide and find ways of delivering them cost effectively,” said Ms Law, “By adopting an average rates revenue increase of 18.5%, we can bring our deficit to a manageable level at $4 million. My team has already identified operating efficiencies and costs through the early part of 2023; and we will continue to find more efficiencies as we work through the 2023-24 year. Any additional savings that we find will simply chew away at the deficit, reducing it further.”
By reducing our deficit, Council has the necessary breathing space to focus efforts on the upcoming 2024-2034 Long Term Plan (LTP), ensuring staff critically analyse service and activity offerings, identify potential for structural budget reform, respond to external challenges and review the quality of services. In short, we will be looking at where and how we are spending rate-payers money.
Council reminds people in our community that rates payments don’t need to be made quarterly. Weekly, fortnightly or monthly payment plans are available that may make paying rates more manageable for people. We intend to proactively provide opportunities for the people to come and talk to us about their payment options. Council encourages ratepayers to enquire about options.
While some people in our community are already taking advantage of the Government’s Rates Rebate Scheme, it is suspected that more people are eligible. Criteria apply to this scheme – enquire with Council.
Mayor Petley, Councillors and staff were pleased with the level of community engagement on the Plan. A total of 270 people attended the public and targeted sessions across the four week period, with 88 people making submissions.
“We hope that the many people who are making the time to speak with us will continue to do so as we work through our detailed LTP work programme. Together, we need to make some tough decisions and we can only do that with your feedback and input,” said Mayor Petley.
With direction from the community, Council is confident it can refocus its spending to ensure it delivers projects and services that are necessary, in an affordable way.
ENDS: WORDS 545