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Taupō District Council Delays Adoption Of Long-term Plan

“Between a rock and a hard place.”

That was the description of the decision faced by the Taupō District Council at an extraordinary meeting yesterday, where councillors considered whether to delay adopting the council’s Long-term Plan 2024-34 until 30 September.

The Long-term Plan, which sets out council’s projects for the next 10 years and how they will be funded, would normally be adopted by 30 June.

But Taupō District Council, along with other councils around the country, is struggling with massive uncertainty because the repeal of the three waters reforms and the change of government has made it difficult to plan ahead.

On top of that, councils are dealing with the consequences of a high inflationary environment in recent years, which pushed infrastructure project costs up to 30 percent more than they would have been three years ago.

Policy manager Nick Carroll said the most obvious effect of the council adopting its Long-term Plan three months late will be that it might delay collection of rates. Normally the first instalment of rates for the year is collected in August.

Mr Carroll said while the government had recognised the pressure local government was under and had amended the law to allow Long-term Plans to be done later than intended, there was no doubt that delaying or amending the first rates instalment collection would be disruptive to ratepayers. Council officers will look at what the options are for rates collection in the 2024-25 year and bring those to a council meeting on 30 April for councillors to consider.

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Councillors had serious concerns about the impact on ratepayers of pushing back the adoption of the Long-term Plan, but felt that was the only option.

“A lot of this has come about through central government and what they have decided,” said Cr Kylie Leonard. “We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, not through any choosing of our own.”

“I see this as the best option out of a whole lot of sub-optimal options,” said Cr Danny Loughlin.

Taupō district mayor David Trewavas has already signalled to the community that although work on the Long-term Plan is still under way, Taupō District Council will most likely be looking at a double-digit rates increase in the upcoming year. This is also the case for the majority of other local authorities in New Zealand.

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