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Nrc's 10-year Community Plan Confirmed

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New rates to fund the region's rescue helicopter service and Whangarei's public bus service are two of the key decisions confirmed today (subs: Weds 24 June) after recent public input on the Northland Regional Council's draft 10-year Community Plan.

Council Chairman Mark Farnsworth says the chopper rate will cost all ratepayers $8.56 (incl GST) annually, while ratepayers in the Whangarei District will pay an extra $12.83 (incl GST) each a year to help fund the bus service.

Mr Farnsworth says Councillors were very aware of the current economic climate when setting rates - and scheduling a raft of other activities, including plans to introduce a proposed Regional Growth Programme - over the 10 year life of the plan.

"Excluding the two new rates - and specific targeted rates already levied for river management work - our existing rates will increase by just 1.76 percent ($200,000) to about $11.5 million (incl GST). Once the two new rates for the chopper and bus service are also factored in, our overall rates take will increase to $12.69M - about 12 percent more than last year."

Mr Farnsworth says the Northland community had indicated very strongly during recent consultation on the Council's Draft Community Plan that it wished to support the helicopter initiative.

"While there was less submitter support for the bus service funding, Council feels the service - which carries thousands of people each week - is vital for the community at large and has decided to proceed on that basis."

He says Council support for the helicopter rate is subject to due diligence and the Council also intends to lobby Central Government to try to secure future funding for the chopper service.

However, Mr Farnsworth says even with the new rates, NRC rates overall will remain considerably cheaper than any other Northland local authority and says with one or two exceptions, the Regional Council intends to hold annual rates increases at, or close to, the rate of inflation for the life of the plan.

The average ratepayer in the Far North District will pay $135 in Regional Council rates this year (including GST, but excluding river management rates), Kaipara ratepayers $155 and Whangarei ratepayers $174.

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"That works out to be somewhere between about $2.60 and $3.35 a week, depending on where you live."

He says the Community Plan sets out the direction the Regional Council intends to take over the next decade (in particular the next three years) including how it will contribute to Northlanders' environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing.

Mr Farnsworth says the proposed Regional Growth Programme - an action plan to develop the region to its full potential using a sustainable development approach - will play a key role over the next few years. Work on the programme would begin in earnest soon.

Regional Councillors also confirmed today they would:

Stop collecting this year's regionwide $5.63 annual recreational rate Provide a $10,000 contingency fund (if required) for expert assessments of applications for outdoor trials or use of genetically modified organisms in Northland by the Environmental Risk Management Authority Continue to support efforts designed to reduce flooding risks at 27 high priority catchments around Northland Spend $112,500 annually to update and implement a regional water allocation regime Reduce the amount levied on Whangarei District ratepayers for Hatea dredging from $2.82 to $1.69 annually Spend $101,250 on two stock truck effluent disposal facilities in the region Contribute $50,000 annually towards development of Northland's arts sector

Mr Farnsworth says the Regional Council had received more than 600 submissions on its Draft Community Plan during a one-month consultation period which ended on 8 May.

Councillors - who had considered submissions after three-days of hearings at Whangarei, Dargaville and Mangonui in late May - were grateful to those who had taken the time to have their say.

"My fellow Councillors and I were very impressed with the quality and well-focused nature of the submissions overall and this is reflected in many of the several dozen high level changes we have today made to the Community Plan."

The 10-year plan takes effect from Wednesday 1 July. Copies of the adopted Plan will be available in the first week of July from all Regional Council offices, by phoning (0800) 002 004 or visiting the Council's website www.nrc.govt.nz/ltccp

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