In 2021, Tauranga’s commissioners made some big decisions. Three years later, they’re committed to continuing the work they started.
The council is currently asking for feedback on its draft Long-term Plan 2024-34, which is focused on investing in the future, making things fairer and doing the mahi to deliver on the priority projects that will address the city’s key issues and prevent Tauranga slipping further behind.
Tauranga City Council Commission Chair Anne Tolley encourages everyone to get involved and share their feedback online or in person at one of several community events between now and 15 December.
“It’s important we hear from all sectors of our community to help shape our city’s future,” she says.
Among other things, the Council is proposing a new rating category for industrial property owners, to reflect the sector’s greater use of and impact on our infrastructure; and to share the rates burden more fairly across all of Tauranga’s ratepayers.
It also wants a steer on the possibility of selling its city centre car parking buildings to help pay for the Civic Precinct project. This would meet its commitment to reduce the funding burden on ratepayers by finding other ways to fund investment, and as part of the deal, it would ensure the buildings continued to supply car parks for public use.
The cost of maintaining sports fields and boat ramps is under the microscope too, with a suggestion that users who benefit from services should pay a larger share of their running costs. And a proposed community stadium is back up for consideration, with a range of options to bring it to life, or not, after community feedback earlier this year showed enough support to take it to the next stage.
While it’s not included in the plan, the Council is also keen to hear what people think about SmartTrip variable road pricing – an idea for helping to solve traffic congestion. Whether or not that gets explored further will depend on the community’s feedback, so people are encouraged to check out the council website and share their thoughts before 15 December.
Anne says as one of the fastest growing regions in Aotearoa New Zealand, Tauranga’s growth can feel daunting at times, but it also brings economic benefits, fresh ideas and new possibilities.
“Yes, the changes we’re seeing are rapid and can certainly have their frustrations for people as we navigate the construction and new development underway around our city, but doing nothing is simply not an option.”
“It’s no secret that we’ve been resetting our course to make sure our growth will no longer hold us back, but be our success story,” says Anne.
At the same time, she’s aware that things have changed a lot since commissioners began their work almost three years ago and that with rising interest rates and the cost of living, it’s a hard time to talk about investing in our city.
“Like many households, our finances are being stretched by inflation, higher interest rates, and increased construction costs, and together with the community, we have to make critical decisions on where we spend our money,” she says.
With this in mind, a key part of the draft 10-year plan is to keep costs and rates increases as low as possible by delaying or deferring some projects, while making sure everyone is paying a fair share to help reduce the burden on general ratepayers.
“It’s a balancing act between the investment our city needs today, and in the future, and what we can afford in the face of increasing costs,” says Anne.
“We want to know if our communities think we have that balance right.”