After considering 305 written submissions and hearing 30 hours of verbal presentations from over 100 members of the community, Marlborough District Councillors yesterday agreed their Long Term Plan ten-year budget priorities, which will be ratified at the Council meeting on 28 June, when rates for next year are levied.
It’s expected that once final funding calculations are confirmed over the next few days, the rate increase proposed in the Consultation Document will be reduced by over 0.5% to approximately 4.3% for the coming 2018/19 year.
Mayor John Leggett said it had been a challenging but rewarding process.
“I’d like to thank everyone who made a submission or came and spoke to us in person. It was a very broad range of the best of Marlborough – some great ideas, some innovative thinking and also plenty of realism from people who clearly understand we do not have enough money to help everyone.”
“We’ve taken a principled approach and we have been as fair and reasonable to our community as we can be. Where we have declined funding for groups or individuals, we have tried to identify other income streams they can access or we have offered non-financial Council support where possible.”
“There was strong public support for the projects the Council proposed in its Consultation Document,” the Mayor said. “I’d like to also thank all Councillors for their hard work on the LTP and their pragmatic and efficient decision-making.”
Councillors agreed today to progress the following:
- significant investment in core infrastructure, particularly water, wastewater, stormwater and roading
- investment to meet the requirements of the NZ Drinking Water Standards
- the multibeam survey of the Pelorus Sound/Te Hoiere seabed
- further funding for environmental science and monitoring activities over the next three years
- further funding for implementing the Proposed Regional Pest Management Plan 2018 and Biosecurity Strategy over the next three years
- relocation and expansion of the hazardous waste centre
In addition, Councillors agreed to invest in the following projects:
- the Marlborough Kaikoura Trail
- the Link Pathway
- increased investment in economic development, labour attraction and destination management
- the Marlborough regional film office
Council also agreed in principle to invest in the following, subject to further consideration at the relevant committee:
- Te Ao Māori cultural advice
- Heritage sector funding
- A dog park at Foxes Island, Renwick
- The Linkwater Hall supper room
Councillors decided to accelerate the Youth Development Centre project some years ahead of schedule by contributing $400k from Council Reserves. As Council owns the ex-CRT building, this means a significant saving on capital previously allocated to fund a new building and this will benefit the Marlborough Youth Trust.
Council adopted its Development Contributions Policy as proposed, and the 2018-48 Infrastructure Strategy and the 2018-28 Financial Strategy. They also agreed to plan for a seven year repair and rebuild period after a significant emergency such as an earthquake, and agreed priorities for repairing and rebuilding infrastructure following an event.
Councillors noted the divergence of views on the amount that should be set aside as an Emergency Events Reserve, with a small majority of the public indicating their preference for the $10M to $15M range. Staff were asked to undertake further work on this issue and report back to the Planning, Finance and Community Committee.
On the proposed rating policy changes, Councillors decided to:
- Remove the Rating Area Percentage targets for each Geographic Rating Area.
- Request the Working Group charged with responsibility for preparing the 2021-31 Long Term Plan to review Geographic Rating Area boundaries, in particular the boundary between Picton Vicinity and General Rural.
- Agree to provide rates remissions to Picton Vicinity ratepayers for rates increase above 40% for a period of three years as contained in the Consultation Document.
The review of the Geographic Rating Areas’ cost allocations was the most contentious issue but Councillors confirmed their view that the previous methods were inequitable from a district-wide perspective and had to be tackled. The remission phased over three years will ease the burden on the Picton Vicinity rating area.
Staff are continuing to work through the detail on decisions relating to requests for funding from community groups and other organisations. These will be made available as soon as possible.