Bay of Plenty Regional Council has signed off on its Long Term Plan and will invest around $1.86 billion over the next 10 years.
Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder says the planning for 2021-2031 involves balancing long-standing issues whilst preparing for the unknown.
To deliver the services required, council is increasing general rates by 5.8 per cent an average of $23 per property in 2021/2022, says Leeder.
To avoid the needed expenditure becoming a burden on our communities, we have kept our rates rises as low as possible, he says.
Council has kept these increases low to assist with the region’s economic recovery by using some accumulated reserves in each of the first three years, says Leeder.
In addition, dividend received from investment arm Quayside Holdings allows Council to offset general rates increases by an average of $347 per property in 2021/2022.
“Now more than ever before we have a huge task ahead of us in what is a complex working environment. The region is growing rapidly and population growth is creating challenges notable in terms of housing, transport and urban development,” says Leeder.
“The local government landscape is changing and there is significant regulatory reform underway. This rapid change and increased requirements are driving us to evolve our relationships with tanagata whenua and work with iwi and hapū to increase their capacity and capability.”
As part of council's Māori Partnership Strategic Priority, $1.8m will be divvied up across Freshwater Māori Engagement, co-governance and other initiatives around Māori capacity and capability.
Leeder says this complex environment means adaptation is vital.
“The plan we have set is right for the current time, but depending on the degree of change we encounter, we may need to consider annual amendments and variances, and engage in further consultation with our communities.
Key Long Term Plan Decisions
- Extending a one-year trial of free bus fares for school children within the Tauranga urban network at arrival and departure times from February 2022, to an extension at all times following a further business case to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
- Implementing one-year trials of free bus fares for school children within the Rotorua and Whakatāne urban networks at arrival and departure times from February 2022.
- Allocating increased capital funds for flood protection works.
- Implementing a scheme to install sustainability initiatives to private households.
- Increasing dedicated funding for community engagement, with a specific focus on youth.
- Implementing a regional funding mechanism for safety and rescue services.
- Allocating funds for enhanced regulation of the Motiti exclusion area and maritime activities in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
- Providing a grant to the Rotorua Museum/Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa of $4.1 million.