Waikato Regional Council ratepayers face an average rate increase of just 0.9 per cent after deliberations on submissions to the 2014/15 draft annual plan today.
The council considered 172 submissions on its proposal to boost work to protect water quality, biodiversity and flood control, including a regional contribution of $650,000 to help fund TBfree New Zealand’s possum control work and $600,000 for flood protection works in the Graham’s Creek area in Tairua.
The 2014/15 budget also includes:
- an extra $2.2 million over each of the next two financial years on a collaborative process designed to ensure the most effective plan change possible to restore and protect the health of the Waikato and Waipa rivers
- an additional $259,000 on pest management, bringing the total spend on pest control to $9.15 million next year
- $300,000 for the internationally-lauded Maungatautari Ecological Island Project.
Most ratepayers will pay less than $5 extra a year for these activities and services focused on our environment and economy.
Chairperson Paula Southgate congratulated the council for arriving at an excellent financial result, given the size of next year’s work programme.
“We should be very satisfied with what we have achieved through this annual plan process,” she said.
“We need to signal now that we’ll be getting our teeth into some complex issues in the coming months as we start work on our long term plan.”
Through submissions, the council was asked to provide additional funds for a range of projects including river cycle ways, Enviroschools and a livestock effluent disposal stop in the South Waikato.
The council decided not to grant the requests for the 2014/15 financial year, agreeing that a strategic approach was needed for funding regionally significant, long term projects and facilities.
“Rather than granting funding on an ad hoc annual basis, through our long term plan we will facilitate regional conversations with territorial authorities, the business community, residents and ratepayers on how to support regional projects.”
Also, in response to some submissions raising concerns about how the council carries out its regulatory functions, the council has tasked its audit and risk committee to review and determine the need for further independent review of the council’s regulatory processes including consenting, charging policies and performance.
The plan will be formally adopted on 26 June 2014.