More changes are afoot for water services across the country, but Tauranga City Council is reassuring the community that its draft 2024 – 34 Long-term Plan is still on track.
Commission Chair Anne Tolley says three waters debt, capital expenditure and operating expenditure are already incorporated in the first two years of the draft 2024-34 Long-term Plan and will now be applied to years three to 10.
“The draft Long-term Plan we consulted on last year recognised that the future of water services was uncertain, so while we prepared our draft plan on the basis that Council’s management of the city’s water services would not continue from year three onwards, we considered various possible outcomes,” she says.
“Throughout the process, we assumed that regardless of whether the management of water services went to the water services entity or stayed with council, the levels of service would stay the same and that the cost of delivery wouldn’t differ much, so from a community perspective we expect this will be cost-neutral,” she says.
The council consulted with the community on its draft 2024-34 Long-term Plan at the end of last year and the government has since confirmed that no further community consultation is required as a result of changes it has signalled to the previous government’s water reforms. However, Anne says due consideration will be given to the views of all interested parties, as expressed through submission hearings.
“We’re currently reviewing how the council’s finances will be affected and any potential impact on future rates, and these will be considered through the deliberations process, taking into account the views of submitters. We’ll also keep the community informed through our normal communications processes,” says Anne.
Before finalising the 2024-34 Long-term Plan in April, commissioners will hear from submitters presenting their submissions, review community feedback and staff reports, and make any necessary changes to the draft plan.
In terms of the water services reform, Anne says aside from confirmation from the National-led coalition government that it will not be proceeding with the arrangements put in place by the previous government, the council is yet to receive detailed information on what the future direction for water services looks like.
“We’ll continue to share information we receive from the Government with our communities, and work with iwi partners, the water industry and other stakeholders to achieve the best outcomes for our communities, the environment and future generations,” she says.