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20-Year Plan – Horowhenua prepares for growth

20-Year Plan – Horowhenua prepares for growth

Horowhenua District Council has given the go-ahead to public consultation on the 2018-2038 Long Term Plan.

Three main challenges are up for discussion as part of the Long Term Plan.

Horowhenua Mayor Michael Feyen said the plan was developed following engagement with Horowhenua residents last year.

“For the first time, we have created a 20-year plan as opposed to a 10-year plan. We’ve done this based on assumptions that our district is about to grow significantly and we need to be prepared for that growth.”

Council has created a number of options for dealing with each challenge – you can find these in the Consultation Document. The challenges and preferred options:
• Challenge One: The Future of Community Halls – Use of our halls is dropping, and many are earthquake-prone, requiring significant investment. Council is considering four options, and its preferred option is to sell Foxton Memorial Hall, Shannon Memorial Hall, Levin Memorial Hall, Foxton Coronation Hall and the Foxton Courthouse Museum.
• Challenge Two: Foxton Community Pool – Residents have asked for the swimming season to be lengthened. Council is considering two options, and its preferred option is to extend the season from five to eight months a year.
• Challenge Three: Providing new drinking water and wastewater infrastructure to our growing settlements of Waitārere Beach, Ōhau, Manakau, Waikawa Beach and Hōkio Beach – Council is considering three options, and its preferred option is to do this work over a 20-year period.
Alongside this are two topics that Council is keen to hear residents’ opinions on:
• Shannon Community Hub – Is there a need for a community space that provides for more activities than just a hall or a library – perhaps a safe space for teens to hang out or clubs and community groups to meet?
• Water sustainability – Currently Horowhenua residents use more water than the national average, so Council is organising the installation of pressure-reducing valves, introducing monitoring, and fixing leaks. Should Council introduce water meters, as has occurred in many other parts of the country?
The Long Term Plan proposes an average rates increase of 6.53% – that’s 0.38% higher than anticipated in the last Long Term Plan. There are two major reasons for this:
• Council’s infrastructure underwent a revaluation process, and this led to a $1.3 million increase in the predicted cost of funding renewals.
• Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom is a fabulous asset for our community, and it comes with an increased operational cost for Council of $470,000.

The proposal would increase the average cost of rates from $6.24 per day to $6.65 per day.

Mayor Feyen said the increase is significantly higher than he’d like, and it will undoubtedly be difficult for those on fixed incomes.

“We as a Council must work much harder and more effectively towards reducing future rates increases,” he said.

Horowhenua District Council Chief Executive David Clapperton said the increase is necessary if Council is to provide for the community, and meet the needs and expectations of current and future residents.

In the last financial year, Council recorded a surplus. However, this was as a result of the recognition of asset revaluation gains. In fact Council had an operational deficit and is predicting a further three years of operational deficits before returning to surpluses in the long term.

As part of the 2018-38 Long Term Plan, Council is proposing to lift its debt limit in order to fund growth. Currently, Council’s debt limit is 175% of income, and the Local Government Funding Agency dictates that the most Council can borrow is 250%. Council is proposing to lift its debt limit to 195%.

Council Chief Financial Officer Doug Law said the proposed increase is well inside the recommended levels.

“We’ve taken a prudent approach to ensure we are able to cope if a natural disaster strikes,” he said.

“While no-one likes debt, it is a cost that most households have to juggle to provide for the needs of the family. In the case of Council, our community is growing and we need to provide for that.”

Alongside the 2018-2038 Long Term Plan, Council is also consulting on:
• Horowhenua Growth Strategy, which will identify future growth areas for development across the district.
• Earthquake Prone Buildings – Priority Thoroughfares, which will identify areas of Horowhenua that have enough pedestrian or vehicular traffic to be designated as priority areas under the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016.
• Waste Management Minimisation Plan, which considers ways to reduce waste to landfill.
At the same time, the NZ Transport Agency is consulting on the proposed Ōtaki to North of Levin Expressway.

And in the next few months Council will also consult on the Levin Town Centre Strategy.

Mayor Feyen says 2018 is a significant year in determining the future of our communities and district.

“It’s important everyone gets involved and has their say so that Council can take their views into consideration when making the final decisions.”

Have your say

The 2018-2038 Long Term Plan Consultation Document can be found on the Have Your Say section of Council’s website, www.horowhenua.govt.nz, or visit Council’s customer service centres to view a hard copy.

The consultation period begins on Friday 23 February, 2018.
Planned outdoor public engagement activities (subject to weather):
• Saturday 24 February at the Levin Aquatic Centre
• Saturday 3 March at the Shannon BBQ in Te Maire Park
• Saturday 10 March at the Foxton Beach Summer Market
• Saturday 17 March at the Ōhau Market
Submissions close Monday 26 March, 2018.

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