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Levels of service

Levels of service will be a major discussion point for our Council and community in 2021 says Wairoa Mayor Craig Little.

He says the community needs to tell Council what services they want provided. And of course, people need to bear in mind that the higher the levels of service the more it will cost to deliver.

Mr Little compared Council to a household which faces increasing costs.

“The total cost to run the district for the previous financial year was $32 million. A big chunk of the expenses to run the district are legislative requirements that the Council must deliver on.

“A timely example of cost increases is the money spent to maintain the roads in our district.

“We have a total of 875km of roads in our district and 175 bridges, including 40 large culverts.

“In the last financial year, we applied 13,000 cubic metres of maintenance metal on our unsealed roads and resurfaced 23km of sealed road along with other road maintenance.

“Yet, the results of the Communitrak community survey told us 55% of people were not satisfied with the standard of rural roads. This is an increase in dissatisfaction of 15 percent compared to the 2019 survey. The standard of urban roads was 73 percent, 2% less satisfaction than 2019.”

Mr Little said all Council’s across New Zealand have a legislative minimum standard they need to adhere to across all our services.

“We have aimed to meet the required standard but to keep costs down, as people keep asking us to do, we have not delivered above the required standard.

“A further concern is that Council actually spent $1 million more on roading maintenance in the last financial year than it had the previous year, and that is totally because of the increase in costs.

“Obviously increasing our investment yet receiving poorer feedback is not sustainable.

“There are also issues with only providing the bare minimum as eventually this will catch up on us with extra maintenance, replacements and upgrades needed.

“Levels of service can also be applied to the Community Centre, Library, Museum and Gaiety Theatre. Our community tells us they want these facilities and Council supports them financially to ensure they are sustainable - but again that comes at a cost.

“Personally, I think the services people get for rates is very good value for money. Rates provide a huge range of deliverables from 3 Waters to street lighting, footpaths, rubbish and roading, parks and reserves, bridges and culverts and animal control to name a few. I encourage ratepayers to compare their rates bill with how much they pay for insurance or electricity or the cost of maintaining and insuring your car.

“Council needs to continue to work hard to deliver affordable services to our community and to ensure we are getting a quality service for our investment. The levels and costs of these services need to be fully understood by everyone.

“We all know that the higher the levels of service the higher the cost, and our community needs to be thinking about how high they are prepared to go.

“Levels of service will be a focus of our formal consultation on our Long-Term Plan early next year, with pre-engagement in January, and full community consultation in April.”

4 November 2020

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