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Public encouraged to have say on Draft Annual Plan

Media Release: Friday 21 March 2014

Public encouraged to have say on Draft Annual Plan

Residents and ratepayers are encouraged to have their say on what is planned by Horowhenua District Council for the coming financial year.

A one-month consultation period has just started for Council’s Draft Annual Plan 2014/2015, including opportunity for the public to make submissions.

The Draft Annual Plan is based on year three of Council's 2012-2022 Long Term Plan and explains services, activities and projects planned for the year, as well as how much they are expected to cost.

The proposed total rates requirement of $29.6 million will require an average 9.92% rates increase for 2014/2015. The key drivers include a reduction in profit on property sales, an increase in loans servicing costs, depreciation, increases in community and library costs, as well as decreases in economic development revenue and parking revenue.

There are also expensive urban water supply and wastewater projects and resource consent renewals required - which contribute to a $200 increase on average for urban ratepayers.

Mayor Brendan Duffy says these are all necessary requirements, on top of maintaining current levels of service.

"Significant investment in some infrastructure assets in coming years is vital to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our communities and our environmental obligations.

"We need to keep developing and enhancing our core infrastructure and investing in the services and facilities that make the Horowhenua an attractive place to live, work, play and invest in."

Mayor Duffy says that Horowhenua has the third-lowest average rates in New Zealand.

"The Council certainly provides real value for it too," he said.

"And, we will continue to deliver services and facilities that are accessible and affordable, that fulfil the needs of our whole community."

Chief Executive David Clapperton says the Council is taking a prudent and sustainable approach to managing its finances in the years ahead.

"This includes serious consideration given to current operating costs. In doing so, changes have been made resulting in a reduction of $1.5 million dollars in operational costs.

"This is a huge cost saving - without it there would have been an overall rate increase of about 13%."

Mayor Duffy says everyone interested in the future of the District is encouraged to provide comment on the Draft Annual Plan.

"It's simple. Let us know your views on what you think we should be doing and the services we should be providing," he said.

Running simultaneously to the Draft Annual process will be consultation on reviews to two Bylaws - the Solid Waste Bylaw 2008 and the Water Supply Bylaw 2008. Further information can be found at www.horowhenua.govt.nz/bylawreviews

And, for Foxton Beach residents and ratepayers, there is a question on the Draft Annual Plan submission form regarding whether $500,000 from the Foxton Beach Freeholding Account be granted to the Foxton Area Community Medical Trust, to go towards the purchase of Te Waiora community health centre in Foxton.

The Draft Annual Plan is available online to read and download at www.horowhenua.govt.nz/dap

It is also available at Council offices and District libraries. Copies can be requested by phoning customer Services on 06 366 0999.

To assist residents and ratepayers to understand the detail in the Annual Plan, there will be five open days. These will be:

• Friday 4 April, 10.00am - 2.00pm at Levin Mall

• Tuesday 8 April, 10.00am - 2.00pm in Foxton, outside deMolen

• Thursday 10 April, 10.00am - 2.00pm in Shannon, outside Four Square

• Monday 14 April, 10.00am - 2.00pm at Foxton Beach, inside Holben Pavillion

• Thursday 17 April, 2.00pm - 6.00pm at Te Takere, Levin

Submissions can be made online or emailed to annualplan@horowhenua.govt.nz. Alternatively, paper submission forms can be completed and delivered to a Council office, faxed to 06 366 0983, or posted to Annual Plan Submissions, Horowhenua District Council, Private Bag 4002, Levin 5540. Submissions close at 5.00pm on Tuesday 22 April 2014.

People will have the opportunity to speak about their submissions at hearings between May 7 and May 8 or they may choose to write a submission without speaking to it.

The Mayor and Councillors will receive copies of all the submissions and will consider them at a two-day meeting on 21 and 22 May to help make their decisions for the final Annual Plan.

Everyone who makes a submission, whether they attend a meeting or not, will receive a letter from the Council outlining its decision on the points raised in the submission, once the plan is finalised.

The final Annual Plan 2014/2015 will be adopted at the Council meeting on June 4 and will come into effect from 1 July 2014.

Ends

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