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City Plan: "tough choices to make"

City Plan: "tough choices to make"

March 31, 2004

The North Shore City Council's strategy and finance committee chairperson is urging the community to be part of the new way council sets budgets and work programmes for the next decade.

Councillor Tony Holman says the council's draft 2004-2014 City Plan (long term council community plan) presents the public with some exciting proposals to consider - and tough choices to make.

North Shore City enjoys an envied quality of life, he says, and there are major pressures on this.

"Much of this 10-year plan addresses the question of how we maintain and improve it.

"As a city we face some difficult decisions about which services to provide and how we're going to pay for them. These are issues the community and the council must face together and now's the time for the public to speak up," he says.

"Law changes have sparked a new-look, consultative approach to long-term planning and budgeting. It's essential that the community - residents and business people alike - takes its opportunities.

"We know it's difficult for people to choose from so many worthwhile projects: it never gets any easier for councillors either!" says the lifelong North Shore resident.

A 2.9 per cent average North Shore City rates increase is proposed in the draft City Plan for 2004/05 to deliver core programmes. This is largely based on the community's priorities for council action: improving beach water quality; creating better transport choices to enable people to move around the city; and providing green, open spaces. Over the next 10 years the council plans to invest a further $898m in capital projects including $346m for transport, $288m for wastewater, $94m for stormwater and $78m for parks, beaches and sports fields.

Tony Holman says that in addition to this base budget which funds essential works to upgrade infrastructure and protect the environment, there is much more for the community to consider.

"In a major shift from previous annual plans and budget rounds, we're inviting the public to comment on 14 proposals, some of which are one-off, 'choose or lose' opportunities, while others offer new or improved ways of providing services or facilities," he says.

"As a council we're looking at innovative ways of raising money to fund services such as public/private partnerships and development contributions. However rates and loans have to remain a major factor in our budgeting.

"Everything comes at a cost and we will take into account people's ability and willingness to pay for the many services that council provides them.

"This is why it is essential that the public speaks up now so when we consider the options we do so knowing the community's feelings and make our decisions accordingly."

Consultation on the draft City Plan ends on April 22. The full plan is available on the council's website www.northshorecity.govt.nz, or can be viewed at council offices and libraries.

ENDS

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