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Annual Plan adopted

AP 2023 24

Balancing affordability with cyclone recovery and future growth has resulted in a Wairoa District Council average rate increase of 10.6 per cent.

On Tuesday (18/07/23), elected members adopted the Annual Plan, taking into account community feedback which included 25 community engagement sessions.

Council had initially gone into the Annual Plan engagement process with a proposed 15.4 per cent increase. However, a contribution from Council Controlled Trading Organisation QRS has seen the final average increase drop to 10.6 per cent.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said elected members have listened to the community and will focus on finishing existing projects, particularly those that are part of the Three Waters Better Off Projects, rather than spending on new projects.

The library/learning hub design phase has been put on hold based on the community feedback around affordability, although this may still be considered as part of the Long-Term Plan.

“Moving forward, we need to focus on recovery to resilience while continuing with Wairoa’s economic development, particularly by attracting external funding.”

Elected members committed to completing the Te Wairoa E Whanake project to help regenerate the town centre and create educational and employment pathways stimulating economic growth by attracting new business and helping to retain existing business.

Council will also spend around $21 million on roading and bridges, and the Wairoa township water supply pipe renewals programme will continue.

A key project is Mahia connectivity and resilience roading improvements, particularly strengthening parts of Nuhaka-Opoutama, including the Black’s Beach dropouts and Mahia East Coast Roads. The current ongoing weather issues and resulting landslips are proving problematic, with more work needing to be undertaken to understand the impacts and solution options.

Mr Little acknowledged the success and hard work of QRS in returning a higher contribution. “We have to be mindful that although we have managed to offset some of the increased costs, it does not take away from the fact that rising costs due to supply and demand issues and increasing inflation have put real pressure on the budgets Council forecasted for this year. It is a situation many Councils across New Zealand are in.”

The Wairoa landfill fees will be increased to cover operational costs, the Emissions Trading Scheme and the Waste Levy imposed on Council by the government. The general waste disposal fee will increase to $370 a tonne and green waste disposal to $125. The Wairoa recycling centre will be upgraded, and a future focus will be on an education programme about the benefits of increasing recycling which reduces the amount of rubbish going to landfills.

Mr Little said that during the Annual Plan engagement process, it was great to be in the community and hear feedback directly from local people. “Key messaging was around keeping people safe and continuing to advocate hard for external funding. People praised Council’s response to the cyclone, acknowledged our difficult times, and said Council is doing well considering the challenges.”

19 July 2023

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