Following three days of hearing and discussing public submissions, Wanganui District Council has decided on the final make-up of its 10-Year Plan 2012-2022, with the plan to be formally adopted on June 28.
Mayor Annette Main said the Council met on June 11-13 to consider 245 submissions from the public.
"We heard from more than 60 submitters who took the opportunity to present their views in person to the Council and gave us some thought-provoking comments," Mayor Main said.
"Although our plan doesn't include additional spending on new projects, this reflects a general view which has been invaluable in giving Council a steer on some key issues for the future.
"The major focus is on paying off debt as well as looking after the facilities, assets and services we already have. The first priority will be to repay infrastructure debt, such as stormwater and roading.
"Dealing with our earthquake-prone buildings will be a challenge in the coming years and we are allocating funding for this through an earthquake strengthening rate. This rate will provide $20M over the next 10 years to enable the necessary work on our public buildings.
"The government has introduced 'Better Local Government' which will reform the way local government operates. We have adopted a prudent 'business as usual' approach to the provision of services until we know more about what the reforms will entail."
The Council sought the community's views on a number of issues. The issues, and the Council's decisions, were:
Earthquake strengthening rate
This rate will be introduced from 2012/13 to provide $20M over the 10 years of the plan for the Council's earthquake-prone buildings. This will be $11.50 for residential and farming ratepayers and $12.50 for commercial properties in 2012/13.
Debt retirement rate
This will be introduced in 2012/13 with an initial focus on repaying infrastructure debt (stormwater for urban ratepayers; roading for rural ratepayers). For 2012/13, the plan commits $641,000 to repay debt.
Sarjeant Gallery protection
The Council agreed to continue to pursue external funding options for the Sarjeant Gallery development project which will protect the building and collection. An application has been made for government funding and further support will be sought from other organisations and individuals.
Heads Road roundabout
This project will remain in the 10-Year Plan. The Council had asked the community whether it thought it should be a priority, given the current financial constraints. The budget includes $364,000 (loan funded). The total cost of the project is $1.3M and it may attract a New Zealand Transport Agency subsidy of 72%.
Wanganui Glass School
The Council will provide funding ($95,000) for the Glass School for 2012/13. A decision about ongoing involvement in the Glass School will be made in late 2012.
The plan includes $690,000 for riverfront enhancement to take place alongside programmed work on existing infrastructure, from 2013/14 to 2015/16. This is part of the existing Riverfront Development Plan.
Supporting digital capacity
The draft plan excluded funding for a Digital Wanganui Co-ordinator and initiatives to capitalise on the roll-out of ultra fast broadband. However, the Council decided to allocate funding for three years through savings and reallocation of existing work streams.
The Council made the following changes to the plan:
$5000 additional funds for Wanganui East Pool.
$10,000 funding for an initiative to improve insulation for lower decile homes.
$20,000 increase in Masters Games funding.
$7500 increase in funds available for owners of heritage buildings to do earthquake assessments.
Replacement of Opera House seating was deferred from 2012/13 to 2013/14 while earthquake strengthening work is considered.
Safer Whanganui Community Co-ordinator role will remain a part-time position.
The decisions made have resulted in the following average overall rate increases for 2012/13. The increases include the debt retirement and earthquake strengthening rates:
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