At the extra ordinary meeting of Ōpōtiki District Council last week, Council adopted the 2019-20 Annual Plan.
Annual Plans support long term plans and provide the basis for setting and assessing rates for each year. In accordance with the amendments to the Local Government Act in 2014, Council has been able to save ratepayers the cost of undertaking a Special Consultative Procedure this year as there are no significant changes from the content of the Long Term Plan.
Based on the Annual Plan budgets, the annual plan will see a rates rise of 3.78%, well below the forecast 6.3% in the Long Term Plan.
Council's Chief Financial Officer, Billy Kingi said that there were several reasons for the lower rate than expected.
"There are a few factors at play here - one is some better-than-anticipated pricing and moving ahead of schedule on the sewer rehabilitation project. The other factor is deferred capital works in a few areas – things we haven't got to yet for various reasons. For example, we have pushed out the dates on stormwater improvements as we research some better-fit options for Ōpōtiki. And a few projects need grant or other funding and delays in receiving that has meant we have pushed those into next year as well – things like the cycleway and the harbour," Mr Kingi said.
The Ōpōtiki Mayor, John Forbes, said that it was going to be a busy year for the Council, particularly as the Council sought to make the most of Provincial Growth Fund applications.
"We want to strike while the iron is hot – Ōpōtiki has two of the four identified 'catalytic projects' in the eastern Bay and they are set to transform our district. We appreciate that the PGF may not be an option forever, so we want to make sure we get our applications in and get moving on those projects as soon as possible.
"We also have other big projects on the go – the sewer upgrade is going well, the new waste and recycling system is being rolled out as we speak and we are about to consult with our community again on the library upgrade. We're also focussing on improving the look and amenity in and around Ōpōtiki town centre. Improvements to the CBD will also be a big project as we want to make sure our solutions are well-thought through and sustainable in the long term.
"These big projects all sit on top of our everyday business of providing water, wastewater, roading, reserves, public events and public spaces to the community. I am very proud of the amount of progress our Council achieves on such a tight budget," Mr Forbes said.
Full a full copy of the Opotiki District Council 2019-20 Annual Plan on our Annual Plan page.