Council Working To Keep Rates at Affordable Level

Ratepayers in Hurunui can expect to face an overall rates rise of 3.27% this coming year.

The increase was confirmed by the Council during the adoption of this year's Draft Annual Plan which will be available to the public this Friday, with submissions open until April 11, 2011.

The rates increase will be one of the smaller ones in the country.

Mayor Winton Dalley says the figure takes into account essential works and provision of services to ensure the community continues to grow and development.

But at the same time, he says, “in our planning and development of the year ahead, we have not lost sight of the need to balance progress with affordability, and the ability of our ratepayers to pay.”

He says it has not been an easy task given the challenges ahead – not the least of which will be dealing with the fallout from the two devastating earthquakes that have struck Canterbury over the past six months.

“While in our planning for the year ahead, we had taken into account the impact of the September earthquake on costs and services, sadly, Canterbury has now suffered a second and far more devastating shake.

“While the Hurunui District has emerged relatively unscathed there will be an ongoing financial impact. We are just not in a position to accurately assess just what that will be, though clearly the cost of insurance and some services will increase significantly.”

Mayor Dalley says the Council continues to face significant legal and compliance costs which it has very little control over.

“Meridian’s recently proposed wind farm now adds to Mainpower’s Mt Cass windfarm proposal – very complex and lengthy planning and resource management processes requiring specialist advice and support.

“We will also be paying over $155,000 to Audit New Zealand alone to audit our required Annual Report and next Long Term Plan and on top of that there are our Canterbury Regional Council consent charges, water quality monitoring costs, National Dog Database fees, Remuneration Authority fees, and even music licence fees, to be covered.”

He cites the impact of reduced government funding for road maintenance as an ongoing concern for the long term viability of the district’s roading network.

The Council this year also has to consider taking responsibility for its biodiversity and youth programmes, which rely on external support and there are fears external funding may not be secured.

The 2011/11 Draft Annual Plan has been prepared by a largely new council, with a new Mayor and six new members joining three returning councillors at the elections last October, but Mayor Dalley says there remains a strong desire to build on the work done by previous administrations and to see continued improvements and enhancements, now and into the future.

“This Draft Plan is founded on the same strategies for growth, and determination to control spending while ensuring adequate resourcing of essential services, that has been the cornerstone of the Council’s long term planning in recent years.

“Indeed you should be able to see a strong correlation between our stated intentions for the third year of the Hurunui Long Term Community Plan 2009 – 2019 (HLTCP) and this 2011/12 Draft Annual Plan, in that, what we foreshadowed in our long term document, is largely included in our proposed schedule of works and special projects for this coming year.”

These include:

• Improved road drainage for both sealed and unsealed roads – to meet our road safety commitments and flood risk management outcomes. This work is about getting water away from roads as quickly and efficiently as possible to minimise or prevent damage to roads as well as making them safer to drive on. (An additional $172,000)

• Improved sealed road maintenance – in order to get the most out of our annual road reseal programme. (An additional $262.900)

• Upgrade of our library software system – to better manage our library information relating to resources, customers, usage and stock. (An additional $30,000)

• Engineering enhancements – to improve our ability to manage across a range of services including roads, water, sewer, stormwater etc. Given the important of the projects the engineering department manages and the impact these have on the whole district, it is essential we have the tools and resources to manage this area most effectively. (An additional $100,000)

• Increased maintenance of the council headquarters – now over 20 years old the simple reality is things wear our or become outmoded and non-repairable. Vehicle security also needs addressing. (An additional $40,000)

The Council will formalise the Annual Plan in June after consideration of submissions – which can be made up until April 11th, 2011.

Mayor Dalley is encouraging the community to make its views know.

“This is your chance to help shape the Hurunui District by telling us what you think are the priorities we should be focusing on, and whether you agree or not with the projects we have identified as a priority for this coming year.”

Copies of the Draft Annual Plan, summary and submission forms can be obtained from all council service centres and libraries or on the council website: www.hurunui.govt.nz

For further information contact:

Winton Dalley Jason Beck

Mayor Finance Manager

Hurunui District Council Hurunui District Council

P: 03 314 0024 P: 03 314 0029

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