Bay of Plenty Regional Council has adopted its Ten Year Plan after responding to public views and substantially cutting general rates increases, while continuing to fund the region's environmental and economic priorities.
Chairman John Cronin said the Council had made some hard decisions during recent deliberations to ensure the plan kept rates to an affordable level for the region's ratepayers.
"Proposed general rate increases in the draft plan ranged up to $29 (Year one) in the Western Bay District. Finalised general rates rises will range from no increase in Kawerau District to an increase of $9 a year in Western Bay of Plenty District," he said.
"Submitters wanted many items to be added, but generally did not identify what should be cut.
"Two days of deliberations confirmed our priorities for the region and identified where efficiencies could be made," Mr Cronin said.
The final Ten Year Plan 2012-2022 incorporating the changes was adopted by Council yesterday.
"We have worked hard to keep any increase realistic while maintaining the wide range of services we provide to our communities," Mr Cronin said.
"We asked for feedback on our draft Ten Year Plan in March and received 181 submissions on it and related policies and 126 survey forms. During three days of public hearings in May we heard from 84 groups, organisations and individuals," he said.
"We've listened to our communities and made some changes accordingly.
"Rotorua Lakes was one of the biggest topics discussed in submissions. We agreed to spread funding of $45.5 million for nutrient reduction over the full ten years of the Plan and to work with partners on how to reduce nutrients from land use in a cost-effective way," he said.
Council agreed to provide $50,000 to ?p?tiki District Council for flood modelling in Year One (2012/13) and $530,000 in the following year for geotechnical work and detailed design assessments and costings for the ?p?tiki Harbour Transformation project.
Another $200,000 will go to Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District councils to help with the capital costs of sealing Oropi Road to protect a municipal water supply.
Tauranga Environment Centre's Enviro-Hub will receive $27,300. A review of the Regional Waste Strategy will also be funded with $50,000.
The budget for M?ori capacity conferences will be increased by $25,000 and an extra $20,000 added to the existing hap? and iwi resource management plan budget each year.
"We've confirmed our priority projects during the next ten years, including Tauranga Harbour, Rotorua Lakes and Rotorua Air quality," Mr Cronin said.
"Our other priority projects are regional infrastructure, pollution prevention (contaminated sites), passenger transport (Tauranga and Rotorua buses), and rivers, drainage and flood management.
"We've made changes to the Rotorua Lakes and Kaituna rediversion programmes, and adjusted the Environmental Enhancement Fund," Mr Cronin said.
"We've amended the funding ratio for Rotorua air quality work to half from targeted rates and half from general funds (changed from 75 percent general funds). We will continue with targeted rates as proposed for passenger transport, Rotorua lakes and Rivers, Drainage and Flood management.
"We've also committed to savings of $750,000 over three years ($250,000 each financial year from Year Two - 2013/2014) by making permanent efficiencies in the way Council works," Mr Cronin said.
Other items approved yesterday include:
- Adding targets for the percentage of dairy farms in the Tauranga Harbour catchment that have nutrient management plans in place (Year One = 30 percent; Year Two = 60 percent; Year Three = 90 percent and Year Four = 100 percent).
- Allocating direct funding from the Regional Infrastructure Programme in Year One to sewerage reticulation in Hinehopu/Rotoiti ($695,000) and Hamurana/Awahou ($946,000) and culverts under the Tauranga Eastern Link ($2.6 million) to retain development opportunities for existing business-zoned land outside the urban limits.
- A total of $3.9 million committed to operational work relating to Tauranga Harbour and its catchment, including a substantial amount embedded in region-wide programmes.
- Reallocating the budget for investigations and consenting for the Kaituna River re-diversion to the Ongatoro/Maketu Estuary over three years instead of two, deferring starting construction from Year Three to Year Four, and decreasing the overall capital budget.
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