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Council adopts annual plan

Council adopts annual plan

North Shore City Council today adopted its 2003/04 Annual Plan, incorporating some significant changes to its draft plan, heeding community feedback.

Earlier this year the council received 309 written submissions on its draft plan, with 113 of the submitters heard by its hearings committee.

These views were collated and carefully considered by the committee, which recommended that a number of changes be made to the final version of the plan, which covers the 2003/04 financial year from today (July 1, 2003) to June 30, 2004.

Changes made as a result of the community ' s feedback include a reduction in the proposed rate increase. Earlier set at 5.02 per cent for the average residential ratepayer, the increase has been lower at 4.65 per cent.

Mayor George Wood says the community clearly supported investment in key priority areas to improve transportation ($32m in new capital projects), wastewater and stormwater networks, and the purchase of new parks and reserves. Mr Wood says significant changes were made to the timing of capital programmes in transport, wastewater, stormwater, water and parks and beaches to ensure a more realistic and achievable works programme that could be completed in the next 12 months.

Annual plan hearings committee chairperson, Andrew Eaglen, says that other areas where changes were made to the plan, were to incorporate feedback from the public and to accommodate increased costs to comply with government legislation. The total cost of complying with the Local Government Act 2002 amounts to around $600,000 for 2003/04.

Other changes were:
* Birkenhead Library changed from a $1.95m upgrade to $5.5m for a new library with $100,000 for design and planning in 2003/04 and a further $900,000 in 2004/05 and $4.5m in 2005/06 for construction;
* Increased resources for Travelwise including the appointment of a Travelwise co-ordinator ($65,000) to promote the programme in schools;
* Stormwater infrastructure planning costs of $585,000;
* Increase in the community facilities grants fund of $200,000 (bringing this to $700,000) and community grants of $50,000;
* Additional allocation of $290,000 for upgrading at Ashley Ave;
* A contribution of $100,000 to Auckland Regional Economic Development Strategy (AREDS); and
* Additional expenditure of $100,000 on public toilets in 2004/05 and 2005/06.

As a result of the changes to the capital works programmes, debt level by June 30, 2004 is now $72.2m, down from the $87m projected in the draft plan. Interest to be paid is now planned at $3.5m, which is $1.1m lower than the draft plan. Both of these are well within the council ' s own self-imposed constraints.

Councillor Eaglen thanked everyone who took the time to attend meetings and make submissions on the draft Annual Plan.

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