Friday, 25 May 2018
Council finishes Long Term Plan decisions with an overall average rates increase of 1.61%
Clutha District councillors last night finished making decisions about the proposed Long Term Plan 2018/28.
Following a month-long consultation process that resulted in more than 370 submissions and two sessions of verbal hearings, Council has made a wide range of decisions about the 10-year plan.
Last night's decisions by Council included:
- Council confirmed the allocation of $15,000 for freedom camping enforcement. This follows a trial run of an enforcement officer employed in the Catlins over the 2017/18 summer season. The freedom camping bylaw review is scheduled for later this year.
- Council confirmed budgets for destination toilets in Balclutha and Milton, this follows the Our Place community plan processes carried out for both towns. Milton’s toilet is provided for as part of the main street upgrade, Balclutha’s destination toilet is a new project with the exact location still to be determined. Council also agreed to investigate toilets in the Catlins, Lawrence and Coastal Communities as part of the community plan processes coming up over the next three years. In addition, scheduled renewals of the Surat Bay and Jacks Bay toilets have been brought forward to the 2019/20 year. Council also approved $25,000 for the provision of a single toilet at Cannibal Bay.
- Council confirmed the Rosebank Industrial Park project, following a decision at the end of last year that recognised it is likely the cost of the development will exceed what the sections can be sold for. The decision to take this loss was included in the Long Term Plan, elected members felt the economic and community benefits of the industrial park far outweighed the monetary loss. This loss will be covered by the sale of surplus Council property and not by rates.
- To construct a footpath in View Street, Stirling - 180m of this would be in concrete and the rest in crushed rock.
- A budget of $15,000 for the sealing of the Owaka Playground carpark.
In addition, Council made the following financial decisions:
- When appropriate Council can now take on debt, by applying for loans to fund activities – rather than borrowing from ourselves and breaking our high-interest yielding bank deposits.
- Through its adoption of the Financial Strategy and Infrastructure Strategy Updates, Council also confirmed its focus on what is often described as Council’s “core business”. Over the next 10 years the following spending on core functions is planned:
- $3.1million on promoting growth
- $39.2 million on increasing levels of service
- $152.1 million on replacing assets.
- Council had an additional $440,000 of investment income that was available to distribute during this Long Term Plan process. This is because our investment return for the year exceeded our budgeted return. Councillors voted to use this money to help pay the contractual liability associated with the construction of the Balclutha Centennial Pool. This reduces every ratepayers UAGC rate by about $3.00.
Council received a large number of requests for grants from community groups for the 2018/19 year, the following decisions were made:
• Catlins Historical Society’s request for an increase of $3,500 so the total amount they receive is $22,030.
• To continue the $58,994 current funding to the Clutha Combined Museums Group.
• Clutha District Emergency Services Trust request of an increase of $270 to $1,500.
• To continue the $7,000 current funding to the Kaitangata Community Pool.
• To continue the $8,634 current funding to the Gore and Clutha’s Women Refuge.
• To continue the $19,137 funding for the Kaka Point Surf Life Saving Club.
• Sport Clutha’s request of an increase of $928 to $46,420.
• Clutha Super Masters Games request of an increase of $48 to $600.
• Cross Recreation Centre’s request for its annual grant of $44,100.
• Project Bruce’s request for $7,244 for two years to support running costs.
• An increase of $6,650 to the current funding of $33,350 for Lawrence-Tuapeka Community Company’s to support the delivery of information centre services in Lawrence.
• $30,000 of continued funding towards Malcam Trust's youth development programme in the Clutha District for the next three years.
• $10,000 towards sealing the carpark at the Tokomairiro Community Recreation Centre.
• $14,000 to help fund waterproofing of the south wall of the Milton Coronation Hall - this comes from an existing Milton reserve fund.
• $40,000 for the Kaitangata Skate Park Stage 2 Extension, subject to suitable land being acquired by Kaitangata Promotions for the extension.
• Sport New Zealand Rural Travel Fund’s partnership request for $5,000.
• Life Education Trust’s request to continue receiving $5,133 of community grant funding.
• Catlins Coast Inc’s request for an increase of $500 to $1,500 to cover increased costs of producing the Catlins Care Code.
Council also confirmed its timetable for the upcoming Our Place Community Plans as follows:
• 2018/19: Kaka Point, Catlins
• 2019/20: Kaitangata, Lawrence-Tuapeka
• 2020/21: West Otago
• 2021/22: Clinton, coastal communities, Clutha Valley
• 2022/23: Stirling, Benhar
• 2023/24: Waipori, Mihinerangi, Berwick, rural Bruce.
Earlier this week:
Council voted on the key issues in the consultation document, including:
- Council confirmed the Milton main street upgrade project as a multi-year project with a budget of $2 million. Council has also already included $550,000 in the 2019/20 budget to complete a major overhaul of Milton’s main public toilet at Stewart Reserve. Improving Milton’s main street was one of the top priorities identified in the Our Place Milton Community Plan.
- Council agreed to a larger, purpose-built recovery centre and transfer station at Mt Cooee Landfill with a budget of $700,000. They also approved a budget of $200,000 over the next three years to extend the operational consent of the landfill.
- Council confirmed a budget of $2 million for sealing gravel roads in urban areas, this will be paid for via a fixed charge across all urban local roading rating areas and will allow about 5.7km of gravel roads to be sealed. This is change of position by Council as since 2009 the high cost of sealing means we have only sealed roads when they qualify for funding assistance from NZ Transport Agency. The roads that will be given priority for this new sealing are still to be finalised and a prioritisation process is yet to be determined, but it will be within the urban communities that Council consulted on and is intended to address the negative impacts and environmental effects of traffic on these unsealed roads.
- In addition following a number of public submissions about the state of gravel roads, Council approved
- A programme for prioritising and sealing rural roads will also be considered and consulted on during the 2019/20 Annual Plan process, and
- A budget of $1 million to buy stockpiles of gravel. This is to allow the gravel to weather for longer before being applied to roads. The aim is for the gravel to better settle and compact– and therefore be less susceptible to corrugation and potholes. Having stockpiles will also enable Council to adjust its metalling programme at short notice and respond to adverse weather and rapid changes in road usage.
- Council also voted to change the way we rate for communities facilities such as halls, parks, reserves, pools, sports grounds, and playgrounds. This will now see a fixed charge for all ratepayers who live in the same defined wider “community of interest” area. Currently, how much you pay for these facilities depends on the value of your land and whether you live inside or outside the town boundary. The motivation behind the change is to make the rating system as fair as possible and is based on the idea that the same services and facilities are available to everyone in that area whether they live urban or rurally.
Other decisions included:
- Varying increases or adjustments in budgets for rural water schemes and water treatment plants.
- Council approved additional funding to improve the response time and contacts with customers for the service request system.
- A budget of $85,000 (funded over 10 years) for improvement projects in Lawrence parks and reserves.
- $1 million funded over 25 years towards the extension of the Clutha Gold Trail, to enable this cycling and walking track to continue on from Lawrence to Milton and Waihola.
- $150,000 towards a capital improvement programme at the Cross Recreation Centre.
- Increasing Clutha Development’s budget by $85,000 to invest in tourism, including a district destination plan and a tourist infrastructure feasibility study.
- To grant the Clutha District Youth Council $10,000 to support the initiation of a campaign against illegal substance use, such as meth.
Following feedback about proposed changes to our dog fees, Council adopted the following:
- A rural working dog will now cost $38 to register
- A rural non-working dog will now cost $48 to register
- All urban dogs will now cost $68 to register
In addition, responsible dog owners will now pay $48 with a one-off application fee of $20.
These are different to the proposed fees changes we consulted on, and the changes are based on feedback and how to split the dog fees in the most equitable way, as well as trying to reflect the areas in which most of our response work is carried out. It’s also worth noting that our animal control activity has been running at a deficit for the past two years and will also be in deficit this year, these new fees will help alleviate this.
Fees are currently $26 for working and non-working rural dogs and $58 for all urban dogs.
Council also formally adopted the Schedule of Fees and Charges for 2018/19 - the new fees will take place from 1 July 2018.
The above decisions mean an approximate overall rates rise for the 2018/19 year of 1.61%, a significant decrease on the 2.53% initially proposed in the Long Term Plan.
The proposed Long Term Plan will now be audited and formally adopted by Council at a meeting on 13 June 2018.
Statement from Mayor:
Mayor Bryan Cadogan said this year’s Long Term Plan process was the most extensive consultation process he has been involved in.
We have really appreciated the input and assistance we have received with the biggest numbers attending the soapbox sessions and the 377 submissions presented for consideration.
“This increase in public awareness runs in tandem with Council’s increase in projects and activities. We are extremely proud of the cohesion and ongoing determination of the Council to play our part in propelling all of our district forward.”
One especially pleasing aspect is that through recent drives for efficiency and a focus on investment returns Council has been able to deliver so many more critical projects and advances in core services at the same time as delivering an overall average rate rise of 1.61%
“I want to thank our chief executive and staff for delivering on the promise of more for less. The entire district is now reaping the benefits of their strategic vision.”
Once again I want to thank the public for their assistance, with so many requests it has been a real challenge to get the balance right, there are a couple of submissions I want to especially commend.
Firstly, our Youth Council’s courageous stance to confront one of the growing scourges in our communities, methamphetamine. How could we not support our young leaders as they take unique ownership of a very confronting issue, I wish them well.
Secondly, the green lighting of Milton’s Main Street upgrade is a significant milestone for our district and I thank the positive commitment and support we received.
“It has encouraged us to continue in our efforts to break the shackles of stagnation that have hung over our district for too long. Milton is a town with so much potential and Council is determined to assist this community as part of the overarching community plan processes we are rolling out right across the district.”
While the Long Term Plan process is one of our main interactions with you all, the consultation will always continue because we value your help and take seriously the role of Council to reflect the needs of our people, so thanks once again.
Onwards and Upwards - Bryan Cadogan.