Chief Executive of Priority One
As many readers will be aware, Tauranga City Council is currently consulting on its Long Term Plan.
The LTP is a 10-year council planning document that outlines priorities, expenditure and income; it is renewed every three years.
This iteration is a significant one, with a substantial lift in spending across many areas to cater for the increasing city population, amenity, and infrastructure. Rates will need to lift to fund this expenditure. In Tauranga we face a larger task than most due to low past investment and a rapidly increasing population, but we are not alone – several other New Zealand cities are facing higher costs for infrastructure new and old, and are raising rates accordingly.
The structure of local government doesn’t exactly lead to easy decision making for spend on infrastructure and community facilities. Low rates are easier to offer to voters than delayed future infrastructure, but at some stage this needs to catch up. The recently installed commissioners at Tauranga City Council don’t have this pressure, so can make longer-term decisions with future generations in mind.
Businesses will bear the brunt of the rate increases required to fund the uplift in facilities and infrastructure, alongside cost increases for services. While we might have expected pushback from the business community, feedback I’ve been given has been very positive; they are keen to see progress in the city and they understand that business will need to contribute more to that.
Businesses have been asking for more progress on infrastructure and amenity for a while; productivity and liveability for their staff are important to them. They see the decisions that the commission are making as leading the city in the right direction.
That support comes with a couple of concerns though. Council will need to execute projects quickly and accurately, and central government is expected to front up to match increased local investment.
Tauranga is well acknowledged for being behind on infrastructure, which affects our living standards. While the step change we need to make will be difficult for some, it must be addressed and this plan is a firm step in the right direction.