CE Hamish Riach: Balancing budgets and our Long Term Plan

Published: 21 March 2024

You’ll be hearing and seeing a lot about our Long Term Plan over the next six weeks, because it sets the scene for Council services and projects in the next 10 years.

As you would expect, there’s a lot of core work, project and financial detail, including budgets for each of the 10 years. There’s also some bigger thinking about the future, like what Council should do with Balmoral Hall and the old Polytech, or whether to extend the indoor space at EA Networks Centre.

A Long Term Plan is a big event in the life of Council and happens every three years, the draft set to be adopted this week is the result of work going back at least a year – there’s a set process to follow as budgets and business cases are developed and it takes a great deal of work.

It is planned for the draft Long Term Plan to go out for public feedback on 27 March and there will be plenty of opportunities to tell us what you think.

There are a couple of contentious issues expected to generate a lot of feedback and we welcome those opinions, that is what consultation is all about.

The draft LTP proposes an average 9.9 per cent rate increase. We know things are tight but there are also cost pressures on Council through interest rates, insurance and inflation.

A lot more roading work is planned, but costs associated with transportation have skyrocketed 27 per cent in the past three years.

I urge you to read the consultation document – there’s a lot in there and it also points to some other policies and planning documents that are out for consultation at the same time. One of those is a 30-year Masterplan for the EA Networks Centre.

The centre was opened in 2015 and there was always a vision for it to become a larger sporting hub in the future. The draft Masterplan for the centre and surrounding land reflects various conversations we’ve had with users and stakeholders over the past few years, but we want the wider community’s views too.

Overall, there’s a lot to consider and it’s always a balance between what is important and fair for the community, what ratepayers can afford and preparing for the future.

All the information you need for this important consultation will soon be at  ItsOurPlace.nz

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