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City Plan: North Shore City

City Plan: What will North Shore City residents get for their money over the next 10 years?

North Shore City Council is proposing an average rates increase of 8.9 per cent next financial year with rates rising by an average of 7.1 per cent per year over the 10-year city plan.

This increase is to pay for major infrastructural projects in areas that are important to residents, to maintain existing services and to fund interest and loan repayments, says Mayor George Wood.

"North Shore City continues to be a highly desirable place to live and faces pressure from population growth which places increasing demand on services and facilities throughout the city.

"We have worked extremely hard to contain next year's rates increase at under nine per cent even though it does put increasing pressure on our budgets to meet the level of service the community wants," he says.

Mr Wood says the council is looking to invest $1.4 billion in capital projects over the next 10 years. An average of $295m will be invested every year to deliver services and repay debt.

Examples of major new programmes are:
· Transport projects: $314m including Northern Busway Project - $31m
· Wastewater tunnel and outfall: $103m
· Stormwater works: $108m
· Land for parks: $109m
· Albany Library: $20m

Debt levels are proposed to rise from $169m to a peak of $408m in 2010/11 before settling at $246m in 2015/16. This debt level is well within the council's major debt constraints but breaks the debt per capita constraint in years two to eight mainly due to the Northern Busway and Wastewater Tunnel and Outfall projects. The council has carefully considered the effects of exceeding this constraint and has ensured through its extra debt repayments in later years, that debt is brought back within the constraint.

George Wood says that while rates and loans remain a major factor in the budgeting, his council is looking at other ways to fund services through public/private partnerships and development contributions.

"It is also up to the people of North Shore City to tell their council which services and facilities they want it to provide over the next decade - and how they wish to pay for them," he says.

The council is putting a range of proposals before its residents and business community as part of the Draft City Plan 2006-2016 which will be released later this month.

Proposals include further upgrading the city's transport system to ease traffic congestion, improving town centres, charging by volume for wastewater, smoothing out extremes in the rating system by levying rates differentially, and looking at changing the rating base from land value to capital value.

Mr Wood says it's essential the council hears from the community on if, when and how these proposals should be funded.

"We will carefully consider the public feedback on these proposals and balance these views with a prudent approach to managing the finances of our city," Mr Wood says.

Later this month, the council will send every household and business in the city a newsletter summarising the Draft City Plan 2006-2016. A reply-paid submission form will be included to make it easier for people to provide feedback.

Meetings will be held at four venues around North Shore City to explain the draft plan. People are welcome to attend a meeting, to ask questions and to make submissions before April 26 to their elected representatives.

People are invited to visit the website, www.northshorecity.govt.nz, or call Actionline on 486 8600 for a list of council offices and libraries where they can view the full draft plan from March 22.

ENDS

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