Council fine tunes after hearing public submissions to the Long Term Plan

The Hurunui District Council confirmed the proposals to be included in the Long Term Plan for the years 2012 to 2022 at its meeting on Thursday 31 May. Many of the 130 submissions to the draft plan supported the Council’s proposals although tough decisions still had to be made.

As a result of the Council’s decisions after thoroughly considering public submissions, the increase in the 2012/2013 year reduced to 5.83% (down from 6.94% as in the draft plan). The downside will be the flow on effect to the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 years’ rates which will increase to 5.71% in 2013/2014 and 5.37% in the 2014/2015 year.

The primary causes for the increases in the Hurunui District Council’s rate projections are attributed to the massive increase in insurance premiums and the huge capital outlay to become compliant with the legislated New Zealand Drinking Water Standards.  This will mean that the district will no longer have permanent boil water notices on any of its water schemes, but that comes at a price.  The Council will be treating at-risk drinking water intakes in the 2012/13 year to be e-coli compliant as an interim step. In the long term, schemes need to be upgraded to full compliance by 2027 at an estimated $14million (in today’s dollars).  To make this affordable, the Council will commence rating for this in the 2015/2016 year. The Council has also incurred significant costs in upgrading water supply infrastructure, sewer schemes and stormwater systems which have resulted in increased debt for those activities and the interest and debt repayments have to be funded through rates.

The Council confirmed its proposals to review its method of rating for tourism and general district promotion in 2012/13, to assess earthquake prone commercial and public buildings in the district sooner rather than later in the interests of public safety, and will aim to maintain its roading levels of service despite there being less funding available from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa is to get its much awaited improved changing room facilities.  A more contentious decision was the agreement to also fund a new administration facility after being convinced that the current facilities are inadequate.  $2million was approved to fund the facilities subject to the final design and configuration of the two projects. Mayor Winton Dalley reiterated that, “Without the significant return on our investment in the pools, which we are able to use to offset the costs of running and managing our reserves, our rates would be much higher.” More than $9million of the Council’s estimated income of $30million will come from its ownership of the complex.

The Council agreed to upgrades to a number of community funded facilities such as the Hanmer Springs sports ground in 2015/16, the community hall in 2014/15, and the Cheviot medical centre in 2016/17.  The Council will upgrade the Cheviot service centre so that it can relocate the community library in 2012/13 from its current position at the Cheviot Area School. No funding was allocated for an upgrade to the Amberley public swimming pool at this stage. The Council wants the community to better understand the cost involved and demonstrate that they are willing to fund the significant estimated cost of around $250,000 per year in operating costs, let alone the cost of the actual upgrade at close to $2million. The Council will be expecting the local Amberley Ward Committee to take a lead role in consulting with the public and coming up with recommendations to the Council.

A number of public initiated submissions were agreed to such as the $5,000 contribution toward the roof repair of the Balcairn Public Hall, $5,000 per annum toward the Sport NZ Rural Travel Fund, approval to spend $45,000 to replace the Gore Bay Camp septic tank, $80,000 over two years to upgrade or replace the Cheviot Hills Reserve public toilets and $5,000 to promote responsible dog owner behaviour after one submitter convinced the Council that dog faeces in the streets of Amberley and roaming dogs were a problem.

The public came out in support of Fish and Game’s submission for the Council to improve public access to the Hurunui lakes (Lake Sumner, Lake Taylor and Loch Katrine), with 30 submissions on this topic alone. The Council confirmed its intention to continue working with all parties to help resolve the common issues affecting access. Officers confirmed that this was a complex situation requiring not only significant funding, but resolving issues over public and private land ownership.

“We have not been able to accommodate or support every request and had to say ‘no’ to some of our submitters who came to us for funding. We have needed to take a pragmatic approach given the size of our rates increase for next three years. There is only so much we can expect our communities to afford and fund,” said Mayor Dalley. “Our focus was on our basic infrastructure and the facilities our communities use and have come to reasonably expect.”

The Council will confirm its final Long Term Plan for 2012 to 2022 at its meeting on 28 June to take effect from 1 July 2012.

 

For further information contact:                

Audrey van der Monde

Community and Corporate Services Manager

Hurunui District Council

03 314 0012.

Web: http://www.hurunui.govt.nz