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Council Decisions On 2020-21 Annual Plan - Marlborough District Council

The Council confirmed its funding priorities for the 2020-2021 Annual Plan today, after considering 193 submissions.

Mayor John Leggett said after careful consideration, Councillors have managed to keep this year’s rates increase to below the local government cost index (inflation) of 2.2%.

Today’s provisional rates increase is 1.88%, but this is subject to change and will not be able to be confirmed until the Council meeting on 25 June.

“This is a very significant reduction on the 5.92% increase that was forecast in the 2018-28 Long Term Plan.”

“It’s always challenging for the Council to manage the community’s desire for increased levels of service and project funding, whilst also keeping a lid on rates increases, a task that has been made much more difficult in the current environment. This is compounded by a forecast reduction in Council’s revenue.”

“As part of Marlborough’s wider COVID-19 economic recovery programme, it’s important that the Council continues to support key community projects where possible. The Council enjoys a very solid financial position and we can continue to fund good quality community projects that provide a material improvement to Marlborough’s quality of life.”

“However, the Council has recognised the impacts of COVID-19 on people’s pockets and sought to keep this year’s rate increase to an absolute minimum,” Mayor Leggett said.

“This means many worthy projects did not receive funding this year. We have had to tighten our belts and support a relatively small number of initiatives, with much of that funding coming from our Forestry and Land Development Reserve.”

At today’s meeting, Council opted to defer the implementation of kerbside recycling for Renwick until the 2021-22 financial year. Councillors were conscious of the financial impact of a kerbside recycling rate on Renwick residents, particularly with the wider economic impact of COVID-19 on the community.

Councillors supported funding the following projects (all are GST exclusive):

  • $10,000 to control wattle trees from Waikawa to Queen Charlotte Sound 
  • Up to $7,000 for Picton Little Theatre earthquake strengthening 
  • $169,565 to complete the Link Pathway 
  • $153,913 for upgrades to the hall, public toilets and septic system in Carluke Domain, Rai Valley 
  • $140,000 for the upgrade of the Awarua Park rugby and community facilities in Spring Creek 
  • $30,000 for developing a Wairau River Regional Park concept and management strategy 
  • $2,000 to the Picton Resource Centre.

Councillors also signalled they will consider proposed new destination attractions for Picton, including a mountain bike park and thermal spa pools, which will be investigated as part of the long term planning and economic recovery work underway for the town.

A number of other submission requests were referred to Council committees for further consideration.

As a result of COVID-19, the Council had already set aside $1.2 million to ensure community organisations and facilities like Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 can remain viable. The funds will come from the Emergency Events Reserve and have no impact on rates.

Council is implementing a number of capital expenditure projects this year. They include the new District Library and Art Gallery, the Blenheim sewerage scheme upgrade, sports facilities at A&P Park and Lansdowne Park, and waste disposal and flood protection initiatives.

A campaign for Marlborough to ‘support local and buy local’ and another to get some early domestic visitors back to the region were included in a package of COVID-19 economic recovery projects announced in early May by The Economic Action Marlborough (TEAM) group. The $865,000 package includes free parking in Blenheim and Picton and a contingency fund to support commercial and community events.

Rates for the coming year will be set at the Council meeting on Thursday 25 June and come into effect on 1 July.

“I’d like to thank all the submitters for taking the time to participate in this process, particularly during the difficult lockdown period,” Mayor Leggett said.

© Scoop Media

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