Ashburton District Council today adopted its Long Term Plan 2015-25, after making several changes based on community feedback.
According to Mayor Angus McKay, the main focus of the Plan is to keep building on quality infrastructure and amenities to encourage and allow for future growth in the district.
"The population has experienced sustained growth over the last 10 years and this is expected to continue for some time," Mr McKay said. "An effective and efficient road network will be essential in getting produce to markets; children to schools and activities; and visitors to everything our district has to offer," he said.
Over the next ten years, the Council will boost its roading budget by an extra $650,000 per year (before inflation) to keep on top of ongoing maintenance. Work has also started on two major projects to improve core infrastructure – a $1.9 million sewer replacement in Ashburton and sewer repair trials in Tinwald. Mr McKay said, the Council is also delighted that there are now two first-class facilities operating in the district – the EA Networks Centre and the Ashburton Art Gallery and Heritage Centre.
He said finding a balance between "quality investments for the community's future" and keeping rates at a manageable level was the difficult part of setting a Long Term Plan (LTP) but this had been greatly assisted by the 356 public submissions during the Council's four-week consultation process in April and May.
"Rather than wanting us to spend on big ticket items, local residents asked for a period of consolidation. This directive from the people of Ashburton was taken on board and meant the Council had to make some tough decisions to ensure the 10-year plan reflected the community's needs," he said.
Among the changes made as a result of public feedback has been the deferral of a decision on two hydroslides at the EA Networks Centre. These would have cost ratepayers about $1.3 million, if the community had raised the same amount through fundraising. The majority of submissions on this proposal were not in favour of it.
The provision of a $1.5 million grant to go towards a combined clubrooms and indoor sports facility in Rakaia was also not supported and was taken out of the 10-year plan.
Budget provisions for rubbish and recycling kerbside collection in Fairton were removed but the Council will consult on this again, when considering collections for Lake Hood and North East Ashburton.
Additional money has been assigned to upgrading the drinking water in South Rakaia; improving Methven Cemetery; and the maintenance of facilities at Lake Hood.
Changes to the LTP include:
- $15,000 for the South Rakaia Bach Holders Association to help in upgrading the area's drinking water. An additional $2000 will be provided each year for testing costs.
- An additional $5000 for tidying up the Methven Cemetery in the next two years.
- An additional $13,000 for the maintenance of Lake Hood facilities, including walkways, children's playgrounds and the gardens.
- $9000 each year for Canterbury Maps, an Environment Canterbury-led collaborative mapping initiative, involving 11 local authorities.
- A likely reduction of $15,000 for the Local Authority Protection Programme (LAPP) insurance cover on the Council's infrastructure.
- Removal of the $60,000 rent proposed for Council staff currently housed in the Villa. Staff will instead shift into the top floor of the Council's Administration Building. This has reduced the rates bill by $60,000 for each year of the Long Term Plan.
- Councillors' remuneration will be adjusted to reflect the national Remuneration Authority's recent pay rates.
- The Council has increased the budget for the Ashburton Contracting Limited (ACL) dividend in year one from $605,000 to $1 million. The other years remain as per the original budget.
Learn more about the Long Term Plan 2015-25