Submissions Open on Council Draft Annual Plan

Thursday 04 April 2013

The 2013/14 Draft Annual Plan is ‘year two’ of the Hurunui Community Long Term Plan 2012 – 2022’ (HCLTP) and with just a few exceptions most of it remains as the Council had planned.

The main exception to this is a proposed loan to the Hurunui Water Project (HWP), which was not signalled in the HCLTP. The Council was approached by the HWP Board in December last year asking for $6 million in financial assistance for the planning and design phase of an irrigation and hydro scheme in the district. Because the loan would be unsecured, the Council’s Audit and Risk Committee considered that the security offered was inad¬equate and regardless of the size of the loan, the risk very high. While there are risks, the Council is con¬sidering assisting HWP because of the anticipated benefit to the district that the irrigation scheme would bring. Without its support, it may be more difficult for HWP to proceed. Rates will not be affected on the proviso the project pro¬ceeds as intended. The Council is very keen to hear whether you consider it should (or should not) lend money to a private irrigation scheme.

Councilor Marie Black and Mayor Winton Dalley are HWP share¬holders and as such have taken no part in the decision making process in relation to this matter.

The Council has a number of challenges and opportunities coming up in the year ahead, and the Government is continuing to review legislation that directly impacts on the work local authorities do. The Government is also undertaking a major reform of the Resource Management Act (RMA) which again will impact directly on what councils do. In the meantime, Hurunui District Council has been reviewing its District Plan during the past two years (a very legislated and costly process) and at this stage is unsure the impact of the RMA reform will have on that plan.

Other challenges include: new Government earthquake building standards; re-tendering waste services; maintaining roads with less NZTA funding than was expected (for the fourth con¬secutive year); attracting and retaining qualified staff to work for the Council at a time when skilled professionals are scarce; and completing projects on time and price given lack of tradespeople and prices being driven upward through demand, particu¬larly with the Christchurch rebuild.

Mayor Winton Dalley commented that “As in previous years, in preparing this draft plan, we were guided by our vision state¬ment: “Community partnership in growth and wellbeing”, and our core principles:

Focus on core services
Financial responsibility and affordability
Continuous improvement in service to everyone in our district
Facilitate appropriate growth in the district

“These principles have been our consistent driver for several years now.

“We have taken a conservative approach to this plan and have applied our best efforts to present affordable services to meet the needs of our community. Please be assured that in our planning 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.”

The Council is proposing an overall rate increase of 5.37% for 2013/2014 which is less than the 5.77%) stated in the HCLTP, and targeted rates (which vary from ward to ward and between prop¬erties) are now projected to increase 5.23% (from 4.80% in the HCLTP).

Mayor Dally points out that there is still one important step before the Council can finalise plans for the year ahead - and that is your input.

“We welcome your thoughts and suggestions on the major issues or any other matters outlined in the draft plan and warmly invite you to make a submission and play a role in determining the future of your district.”

More information and copies of the Draft Annual Plan are available at libraries, service centres and on www.hurunui.govt.nz

Submissions close Monday 6 May 2013.