BOP Regional Councillor
The regional council has finished making decisions on submissions to its 10 year plan. Sincere respect and thanks goes to all those who made their views known. It can be a daunting process, but underpins the rights and the huge value of people and communities “having their say”.
Final rating decisions are yet to be signed off by council, but at this stage the increase in general rating requirements will be limited to the growth of the council rating base, the estimated rise in the local government inflation index and the impact of the council funding $4m of regional infrastructure each year (for 10 years). This infrastructure spend will be a contestable process, starting this year, and already there are a number of regional projects lining up - such as the Opotiki Harbour Development and the Tauranga University proposal.
Importantly, the council has also built into budgets going forward cost efficiency targets reflecting the council’s seriousness about driving efficiencies into what and how we do things.
This week we have had the first reading of the bill, introducing the first stages of new local government reform. Simply, this stage is really about limiting the spending powers of local government. There will also be new ways in which communities can seek changed structures for local councils and new constraint mechanisms for staff operating costs. This week a government appointed local government efficiency working group was announced, which will identify ways in which local government can be more efficient and productive.
We are living through difficult and challenging times and any organisation or entity that uses public money has an even greater duty to act prudently and fairly. The greatest challenge is how to continue to make progress in a way that is fair to current and future payers that provides a sustainable pathway forward for our communities, economies and environment.