28 June 2018
"Steady as we grow"
Western Bay of Plenty District Council has today adopted its Long Term Plan (LTP) 2018 – 2028.
The plan sets an average rates increase of 2.7 percent for existing ratepayers across the ten years of the LTP (of which inflation accounts for 2.3 percent). The increase for the 2018/19 year is 3.6 percent (of which inflation accounts for 2.0 percent).
Council aims to keep average rate increases below four percent for the 10-year period (excluding growth in population). This will be achieved by continuing to take a prudent approach to managing its operational and capital work programmes, to ensure the services its communities expect are provided for in a way that balances the affordability of delivering them.
The LTP was developed following comprehensive community engagement with Western Bay residents, with Council taking a 'steady as we grow' approach.
Mayor Garry Webber says the message ratepayers gave was for Council to plan appropriately for growth, while making sure rates remain affordable and debt is reduced.
Council asked for feedback on four key proposals: walkway and cycleway investment; Western Bay Museum funding; arts and culture investment; and the approach to debt management.
Taking into account all the feedback received through the consultation process, Council made the following decisions:
- Walkway and cycleway investment – implement a stepped increase in funding over the next three years to enable faster development, which includes $350,000 in year one, $400,000 in year two, and $450,000 in years three to ten.
- Western Bay Museum funding – provide $70,000 annually in support through District-wide rates for the next ten years.
- Arts and culture investment – enable implementation of the sub-regional Arts and Culture Strategy by increasing Creative Bay of Plenty's funding by $50,000 for the ten years, and grant The Incubator Creative Hub $10,000 in year one, $15,000 in year two, and $20,000 in year three of the LTP.
- Debt management approach – reduce ratepayers' contribution to interest and debt repayments to $1m for 2018/19, recognising the positive financial impacts of growth, and review this decision annually.
In the 2018/2019 financial year $61.66m in total rates is budgeted to be collected - an increase of $280,000 on the initial estimate for the first year of this Long Term Plan.
Total rates of $61.66m are made up of District rates ($38.18m); community board rates ($430,000); water treatment and supply ($6.30m); wastewater ($10.36m); stormwater ($4.21m) and other targeted rates ($2.18m).
Council's net debt was $140m in 2013. It is currently below $100m and is forecast to reduce to $75m by 2028.
Net debt per property was $6,937 in 2013, and is projected to reduce to $2,896 per property by 2028.
"We know that in the coming years we will need to be continually proactive in planning for the development and growth of our District. We are firmly committed to the 'steady as we grow' philosophy," says Mayor Webber.
"We believe this LTP strikes the right balance between looking ahead and planning for change, while balancing rates increases and prudently reducing Council's debt."
To see the full LTP visit www.westernbay.govt.nz/ltp2018-2028.