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Regional Council efficiencies limit general rates increase

Regional Council efficiencies limit general rates increase
For immediate release: 27 June 2013
Greater efficiencies and cost savings have enabled Bay of Plenty Regional Council to limit its general rates increase to 3.5 percent for the coming year.

The Regional Council adopted its Annual Plan 2013/14 today, saying a number of cost savings had been made as staff found ways to work more efficiently. This included reducing reliance on contractors for core Council work, and savings from a number of smaller underspends spread across Council.

The Council’s Draft Annual Plan had originally proposed a rate increase of 7.5 percent. Chairman John Cronin said the Council had set an overall efficiency and savings target of $500,000 for 2013/14.

“Within this target, we have been able to increase funding for some areas of our work in response to submissions,” he said.

Region-wide, the Annual Plan now includes additional funding for flood management work, a review of the Council’s small-scale sewerage policy to ensure it provides equitable funding for different schemes, and funding to support papakainga Maori housing development.

Surf Lifesaving has received $10,000 as a contribution to operational costs, and Envirohub, formerly the Tauranga Environment Centre, has received funding towards its Bay of Plenty Environmental Network and Urban Greenspace projects.

Regional spatial planning work will enable the Council to work with Central Government to take advantage of economic opportunities for the region. The Council has agreed to allocate $250,000 for sub-regional spatial planning in the eastern Bay and Rotorua to complement on-going commitments with the Upper North Island Strategic Alliance.

Other specific areas of work receiving additional funding as a result of the submissions process include:

Tauranga Harbour: Resources have been increased for harbour-related programmes, and new funding has been provided to identify options for mitigating mass coastal erosion around the harbour, as well as a harbour sedimentation study. A trial coastal wetland restoration project and additional stream bank protection work has been funded. There is more funding for mangrove removal and for ongoing processes related to the Rena grounding. Consultation has been funded to consider installing markers for the Matahui trail from Matahui Rd to Matakana Island before Council decides whether to proceed with a consent application and construction. A full options analysis will be done for possible future dredging of the Opureora Channel between Omokoroa and Matakana Island.
• Rotorua: The Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme is a major priority for this year, with $1 million of capital carried forward due to delays in the Tikitere de-nitrification plant pilot. The Council has agreed to help fund new small scale sewerage schemes around Rotorua, and research will be undertaken into the feasibility of eradicating hornwort from Lake Okareka.
Eastern Bay of Plenty: The Council is providing $1.88 million to help fund the Matata sewerage scheme, and more funding has been allocated for the Rangitaiki River Forum. The Ohiwa Harbour Strategy will also be reviewed.
Mr Cronin said the Plan continued the direction set in the Ten Year Plan, approved last year.

“We are continuing to manage our finances and projects prudently, and intend to deliver on the community’s expectations while looking for every opportunity to make savings. We have developed a robust Annual Plan which will ensure our work continues to improve the region’s environment and economy,” he said.


Ends

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