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Community Voice Plays A Major Role In Council’s Long Term Plan Deliberations

Challenging times call for challenging choices and last night Councillors spoke of the many community voices that helped guide their decision making in a Long Term Plan process that proposes the biggest rates increase this district has seen.

Acknowledging the strain on many households to make ends meet, Councillors debated for some time before they were able to reduce the initial proposed average rates increase of 17.4% down to 16.6%. Fixed costs such as depreciation, insurance, interest and inflation make up the majority of the increase.

Mayor Bernie Wanden says “My fellow Councillors and I have had to make some really hard decisions. We started this process in August 2023 and have had 26 workshops, 34 community engagement events, 499 submissions and many community voices to listen to and consider. We are incredibly conscious of the impact our decision making has on our community and have tried our best to strike a balance between setting rates that enable service delivery of the things that matter most to people, trying to keep rates as low as we can, and ensuring we make financially sustainable decisions.”

“We have consulted widely and engaged with a much more diverse cross section of our community. An example of this is the 40% increase in submitters aged 25-35 years compared to the Long Term Plan 2021-2041 Amendment. If I have any frustration, it’s with the constraints around the local government funding model and lack of clarity around the many reforms currently in play at a central government level,” continues Mayor Bernie.

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Our community were asked to provide their views on three key topics, with changes to services a key consideration –

1. What services are needed for our community?

2. Managing waste (including kerbside recycling and the draft Waste management and Minimisation Plan)

3. How costs should be shared.

So, what’s changed and what can you expect from 1 July 2024 onwards once Council’s Long Term Plan 2024-2044 takes effect?

Topic One – What services are needed for our community?

Proposed changes to services (Council’s preferred option)Proposed savings in $ termsProposed savings as a % of ratesAdopted savings in $ termsAdopted savings as a % of rates

Removing fund for Adverse


$200,0000.4%Not agreed 

Increasing fees (by higher than

the average) to meet the Revenue and

Financing Policy target for Animal

Control and other minor changes

across the organisation


Closing Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō, the Youth Space and

Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom on


$77,0000.1%Not agreed 

Increasing parking meter fees

from $1.10 to $2.00 to increase



Council will sell half our Carbon


Increasing trade waste levies$214,0000.4%$214,0000.4%
Stop Urban berm mowing$240,0000.5%$240,0000.5%

Reduce Council’s investment in

Waste Minimisation activities

Additional resolutions adopted

Reduce hours at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō, the Youth Space and

Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom to achieve savings of $77,000.

Council retain the fund for Adverse Events/Emergencies costing $100,000  $100,0000.2%
Council endorses the inclusion of an additional $5,000 to establish gender neutral bathroom signage at our public facilities with any remainder of this funding being used to support our rainbow community.  $5,000+0.001%
Council approves a $20,000 placeholder over year 1 and 2 for the Horowhenua Community Camera Trust for infrastructure to enable an external co-funding grant.  $20,000+0.038%

Topic Two - How should we minimise and manage waste?

Topic 2A: How should we pay for Levin Landfill Aftercare and Landfill debt?

Option 1 (Preferred Option):

Repay through a separate Targeted Rate where every property pays the same rate.


Option 2 (Status Quo):

Repay through existing Solid Waste Targeted Rate, which means that the rural sector pay 20% and the urban sector pay 80% of the total cost.

Topic 2B: How should we fund kerbside recycling services and who should pay?

Option 1 (Status Quo):

Urban continues to pay, with rural properties that receive kerbside recycling services subsidised to receive the same service.


Option 2 (Preferred Option):

Transition to a Targeted Rate for kerbside recycling where those that are currently receiving the service pay their share of the costs.


Topic Three – Sharing costs - who should pay for what?

3A: How should Te Awahou Foxton Community Board be funded?

Option 1 (Status Quo):

Fund through Representation and Community

Leadership Targeted Rates only


Option 2 (Preferred Option):

Fund through new Targeted Rate

3B: How should Economic Development be funded?

Option 1 (Status Quo):

Fund through General Rate


Option 2 (Preferred Option):

New Economic Development Targeted Rate

3C: Do you support the proposed changes to the Rates Remission Policy?In support

What else did Council consider and adopt as part of deliberations?

Working with a constrained fiscal envelope, Councillors debated how they would use an additional $280,000 funding Council would receive via the Ministry for Environment (MfE) levy to achieve waste minimisation goals.

Viewed as a way to implement waste minimisation activities without further impacting the ratepayer, Council voted to allocate $50,000 from the MfE levies fund towards a Carbon Emissions Portal. Prompted by a submission from a passionate community member, Council voted to allocate $25,000 from MfE levies fund towards trialling a composting initiative, which will see Council Officers report back about the trial by February 2025.

Councillors voted to become a living wage employer, a move that would have minimal impact on operational costs, but signal leadership in reducing the pay equity gap in the district.

Councillors resolved that the following items be added to the Long Term Plan 2024-44 Action Monitoring Report, and progress will be reported back to Council: Council officers to -

  • Undertake a review of the current water rating charges in the 2024/25 financial year.
  • Prepare a report for Council by December 2024 to consider options for including a requirement for onsite stormwater retention tanks to be installed by landowners as part of a future residential District Plan.
  • Present the Heritage Strategy (2012) for consideration and further direction from Council by October 2024.
  • Engage with Council’s Iwi/hapū partners and report back to Council by December 2024 on the options for progressing a District Plan Change to protect Wāhi Tapu.
  • Report to the District Plan Steering Group by 30 September 2024 on Industrial/Commercial Rezoning opportunities that could be advanced in a District Plan Change.
  • Develop a Community Plan for Shannon and Mangaore Village in 2024/25 and that officers explore the inclusion of Ōpiki and Tokomaru in that Plan or an associated Plan.
  • Progress opportunities to give resolution to the water wheel project in Shannon.
  • Undertake further work around the Waitārere Beach Surf Life Saving Club designation and report back in 2025.
  • Capture Pasifika Fale when planning for public infrastructure in the long term.
  • Undertake a stock take on lease agreements and report back to Council with this information including an assessment on the current leasing policy.

Which Council Contracted Services will benefit from the Long Term Plan?

Councillors acknowledged the work community groups and volunteers do to support the community, voting to continue funding contracted services with an adjustment for CPI for Levin Waitārere Surf Life Saving Club, Surf Life Saving New Zealand (on behalf of Foxton Beach Surf Life Saving Club), Whatunga Tūao Volunteer Central, Horowhenua District Neighbourhood Support, Save Our River Trust (SORT), Horowhenua Community Camera Trust, Waitārere Beach Progressive & Ratepayers Association and Levin Community Patrol.

Fees and Charges

Showing the extent to which Councillors were committed to balancing the books, they voted to round up any fee over $10 to the nearest 50 cents and endorsed the broader proposed fees and charges. In a bid to move to a transparent user pays model, Council also voted to increase official Council Rubbish Bags from $4.00 to $6.00 and to continue to review costs of domestic solid waste.

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