Sticking to the game plan
The next 12 months will be all about sticking to the project delivery game plan for Hurunui District Council, despite the unprecedented inflation.
Council carefully scrutinised operational and project costs before agreeing to propose an average rates increase of 10.5% for the 2022-23 year.
This rates increase is greater than the 4.99% figure indicated in the Long Term Plan 2021-2031 (LTP), which Mayor Marie Black said was not a decision made lightly, but was necessary to ensure service delivery was maintained.
She said the current economic climate has significantly superseded the inflation rates Council had allowed for in the LTP, that being a 2.82% increase for Operating Expenditure and 3.01% for Capital Expenditure.
“But financial trends like this make up part of the picture of the Current Consumer Price Index of 6.9%, and cannot be absorbed in the account books.”
Council has recently renewed its roading contract, and after a period of seven years since the last contract was entered into, there has been an allowed budget increase of 30%.
“This is an economic trend Council predicts will be long term, so it is unattainable to cut roading services from the 2022-23 budget.”
Mayor Black added that roading is an essential part of Council service delivery, and it remains vitally important for Councillors and Council officers to continue the investment in this area.
“We want to meet the community expectations of safe roads for everyone.”
The LTP budgets were prepared on a range of assumptions, particularly relating to inflation and interest rates, both of which did have a level of uncertainty.
Mayor Black said inflation is reflected in many forms, from the cost of fuel and groceries to the cost of materials for water supplies and infrastructure, and the operating costs of key services such as public toilets.
“Staffing costs and interest costs have also increased.”
Council has also faced a difficult trading year for Hanmer Springs Thermal Pool & Spa due to the full lockdown in August 2021 and the continual restrictions until the country moved out of the Red Traffic Light setting early in April 2022.
“The forecast for the current year has been pulled back to reflect this.”
Mayor Black said they are challenges everyone is facing.
“Despite this, we ensure we will be carrying on as usual with the high level of service delivery.”
There will be opportunities for rate payers of Hurunui District to provide their feedback on the proposed rates increase. Further detail on the Draft Annual Plan and Community Engagement opportunities will be announced from next Monday.
All comments should arrive no later than 5:00pm on Monday 6 June.