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NRC To Continue Emergency Services Funding

Continuation of funding for emergency services is one of a raft of decisions agreed by councillors ahead of the formal adoption of Northland Regional Council’s Long Term Plan 2024-2034 in June.

Chair Geoff Crawford says the council received almost 2300 submissions during an intensive month-long public feedback period on its latest 10-year plan, with councillors taking two days to deliberate the submissions on 21-22 May.

"We’re very grateful for the level of community interest in our LTP (Long Term Plan) and the quality of feedback received."

Chair Crawford says the vast majority of feedback received related to a proposal to cease funding contributions to emergency services and regional sporting facilities, neither of which fall under the remit of legislative responsibilities for a regional council.

"The feedback from our communities has been loud and clear - people want to see the rates we have in place to support emergency services and regional sporting facilities to continue - and we’ve listened."

He says councillors have agreed to continue both rates, acknowledging they’re effectively a form of fundraising and an administrative service on behalf of the community.

"This funding for ‘community good’ is quite separate from the core work we do as a regional council, and I think it needs to be viewed as such."

"We’ve agreed to continue acting as fundraisers via these two rates, which will cost ratepayers about $27.65 a year, and will keep looking at whether there are better ways these community services can be supported into the future."

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Councillors also opted to change the name of the rate used to collect the funds, from the Emergency Services Rate to the Regional Rescue Services Rate, to avoid confusion with the existing Emergency and Hazard Management Rate, collected for core civil defence and hazard management work that the council carries out.

While emergency services funding was a focus for the majority of those giving feedback on council’s LTP proposals, Chair Crawford says other feedback received was generally supportive of the work council is planning over the coming years for environmental management, community resilience and regional leadership.

Some of the other changes from what was proposed that have come out of council deliberations include:

  • Supporting an additional operational spend of $472,000 per year from 2024/25 to fund community-led pest management action in western and northern Northland. (This will be paid for by a 1% increase in rates, to be collected via the Pest Management Rate.)
  • Bringing forward work on a project to reduce the risk of flooding in Kerikeri/Waipapa (originally planned to begin in 2026) with modelling work now planned to start in the next 12 months.

Chair Crawford says council’s total rate rise for the coming year (excluding the ‘community good’ rates for emergency services and sporting facilities) is sitting just over what was consulted at about 11.2%. (With the community good rates included, the rates rise is 16.18%, or $84.70 per annual rates bill.)

This will be confirmed by councillors when they adopt the LTP at their meeting in June.

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