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Horowhenua District Council Adopts Annual Plan With Rates Income Decrease

Horowhenua District Council has eased the financial burden on the district’s ratepayers for the 2020/21 financial year with the adoption of its Annual Plan.

The Annual Plan decreases the amount of rates income the Council will collect for the 2020/21 year, compared to 2019/20, by -1.83%.

Council adopted the plan at an extraordinary meeting on Monday 29 June.

Mayor Bernie Wanden said Council had made substantial changes to its draft Annual Plan in response to community feedback during the consultation period.

“We created the draft Annual Plan before COVID-19 created hardship and uncertainty for many in our community, and we knew it would look different when we adopted it,” he said.

“We are going out with a decision that might be considered extraordinary, but we are listening to our community and making decisions in their best interests. We received a record 142 submissions, and many of the submitters asked us to reduce the rates income,” he said.

“We’ve worked hard to cut budgets to achieve this rates income decrease by reducing employee costs and interest costs, reducing operational expenditure, and borrowing an additional $1 million to fund asset renewals instead of rate-funding them.”

While the rates income decrease would see Council collecting less money, it would not necessarily mean a rates decrease for all households in the district.

Chief Financial Officer Doug Law said rates for some properties could still go up because an independent rating valuation carried out across all properties in the district in 2019 will affect rates from July 2020.

“The way your rates will be affected by the valuation depends on whether your property value rose by more or less than the district average. A below average increase will likely have no impact on your rates or may mean you pay less. An above average increase in value could mean that even with Council’s decision to reduce its rates income for 2020/2021 you may still pay more in rates.”

The adopted Annual Plan also includes the following key decisions:

· $50,000 to undertake preparations for a splash pad in Jubilee Park, including a feasibility study, site planning, stakeholder input and drawing up a design. Up to $400,000 of additional capital will be considered as part of the 2021-2041 Long Term Plan, which Council will begin preparing later this year.

· $110,000 from the Foxton Beach Freeholding Account to support the Foxton Beach Progressive Association’s project to establish CCTV cameras at Foxton Beach.

· $30,000 for essential repairs to Shannon Pool.

· $110,000 for work on changes to the District Plan to help support the community’s recovery from COVID-19, including opportunities for small-scale rural residential subdivision, infill residential subdivision and higher density housing development.

In addition, Council officers will undertake a range of actions in response to items raised by submitters, including (but not limited to):

· further investigation of speed humps at Waikawa Beach

· exploring opportunities for improving the delivery of regulatory services

· continuing to work with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to advocate for community interests in the development of the O2NL expressway

· considering relevant comments when creating the Destination Management Strategy

· investigating the concept of edible reserves

· considering future opportunities for horseriding in the district

· reviewing the Sun Smart and Smokefree Environment Policies.

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