Council adopts plan for next ten years
Ōpōtiki District Council has adopted the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan and a host of associated fees and charges and policies to set the path forward for the coming ten years.
Opotiki Mayor, Lyn Riesterer explained that LTPs outline the many things a council does and how they fit together. They explain what will be done over at least the next ten years, why the council is doing those things and their associated costs.
“It is always that last aspect – the costs – that get the most attention. Councils have a very long list of required activities and functions passed down through legislation from central government. And the community also has a long list of functions and services that they would like Council to focus on. And Council has even more facilities, infrastructure and services inherited in varying states of age and repair,” Mayor Riesterer said.
Almost all these activities, in Ōpōtiki’s case, need to be funded through rates.
The Mayor pointed out that rates are rising everywhere in the country, anywhere from a few percent to 15 or 20 % in some places. She explained that is because there are a few key factors that are consistent across most councils.
“We have more ‘core tasks’ to focus on handed down through legislation from Wellington. We have increasingly complex challenges of climate change and covid economic impacts. We have complex housing and social challenges, and we have aging infrastructure coming to end-of-life at around the same time in many cities and towns. And in Ōpōtiki, we have also historically (over previous generations) kept rates as low as possible at any cost which has led to an underinvestment in much of our infrastructure. It is now catch-up time for most of NZ.
“As councillors we understand all these pressure but also work very hard to ensure that as much as possible the costs don’t fall too heavily on current ratepayers – that is why we spread the costs over the life of assets through loan funding or delay some projects and so on,” Mayor Riesterer said.
In preparation for LTP adoption, Council have held workshops and adopted a number of documents to help work through the issues including the financial strategy, infrastructure strategy, levels of debt and levels of service. Key to decision making has been the community feedback on the LTP proposals, both formal and informal.
“We had amazing feedback on our LTP and people spoke well and passionately, wrote in or spoke to a councillor to make sure the community voice is front and centre in our discussions. Thank you to everyone who made the time to do that,” Mayor Riesterer said.
The LTP document outlines the direction council will take for the coming ten years. Significant cost increases in asset depreciation costs, changes in funding from Waka Kotahi, changes in the rating of Māori land, and increases in solid waste disposal costs put significant pressure on funding.
However, Council have held the rates down by delaying the roll out of mobile services to the coast by a year, removing the recently resolved additional budget for horse management, reducing the budget for the bins activity, making an assumption of grant funding for sewerage reticulation (following the preparation of a business case), increased regulatory revenue assumptions, and not fully funding depreciation.
On average this is a rate requirement of 6.33% increase in rates across the district. This will impact different property types in different ways and the new rates will apply from 1 July this year.
A full copy of the Ōpōtiki District Council 2021-2031 Long Term Plan is available on the Long Term Plan page on this website.