Yesterday Horizons Regional councillors discussed the Council’s 2024-34 Long-term Plan and approved it for the formal audit process ahead of community consultation.
The Long-term Plan (LTP) is Horizons’ plan for council’s activities, including how it will ensure sustainable use of the region’s natural resources, for the next ten years – and how it proposes to rate for it.
Horizons chair Rachel Keedwell says planning for this LTP has consumed the better part of the last year for councillors who have worked extremely hard to make decisions that meet the current and future needs of the region’s natural resources and communities, while balancing affordability with government and community expectations.
“Following a review of Council’s work programmes and robust discussions over the past year, Council has included a proposed average rate increase of 12.9 per cent for 2024-25, 12.5 per cent for 2025-26, and 9.2 per cent for 2026-27.
“These proposed increases, and the supporting information that provides the details behind our work, are planned to be put out for community consultation on 22 March. However, we must undertake an Audit New Zealand process first which may require some changes to the material Council approved today.”
Cr Keedwell says councillors have kept a number of factors in mind in the planning for the LTP.
“It has been a challenging process as we face cost of living increases that we’ve never seen before, increased climate related events, aging populations, and all councils looking at large increases simply to provide the same level of service because inflation impacts us the same way it does a household.
“A change of government in October 2023 has also created uncertainty around what might change legislatively, so we have planned the best we can. We are hopeful things will get clearer in time as we get closer to deliberations and can adjust as required prior to adoption.
“The consultation that we’ll undertake in March will be the starting point for the conversation with our communities. We will release a consultation document to outline what we are planning for, what we have already committed to, our updated strategic priorities and community outcomes, and items for consultation.
“At this point items for consultation will include proposed options for levels of service to do with highly productive land mapping, options for a proposed new activity regarding taking a holistic approach from mountains to sea via integrated catchment management, and proposed changes to management asset insurance, freshwater activities, public transport and cost recovery for the water metering programme.
“We will also be asking for feedback on changes to our funding policies, including how drainage schemes are funded and will be reaching out to those schemes directly. There will be a section inviting general feedback on any of our areas of business that communities want us to consider as well.
“I encourage our communities to stay tuned for more information about the consultation period and to share their thoughts with us about how we spend their rates. We appreciate that any rates rise isn’t ideal and Council does its best to keep rates at a prudent level while ensuring there are opportunities to preserve and enhance agreed environmental outcomes.
“Finally, I’d like to remind people that rates vary district to district due to factors such as district rating revaluation and specific rating inputs like river schemes and urban passenger transport rates for certain properties.”
For more information about the LTP process and next steps, please visit horizons.govt.nz.