Mayor John Leggett and Marlborough District Councillors today considered the 130 public submissions received on its Long Term Plan 2021 - 2031 Consultation Document. Eighty six people presented their submissions to Council last week during three days of hearings.
The Mayor said it was a focused day of decision making but the Councillors were of the same mind in their approach to requests for funding.
“We’ve taken quite a frugal approach this year because the pressure on ratepayers and our financial reserves is greater than usual, for a number of reasons.”
“We have outside pressures on our finances, including inflation, increased infrastructure investment due to Marlborough’s growth, the Covid-19 recovery and its impacts on our revenue streams, plus a raft of new Government regulations impacting on Council,” he said.
“This coming financial year’s rates increase is just under 5.2%, which is higher than usual for Marlborough but well below what many other councils around the country are proposing. I’m really pleased we were able to reduce it from the 5.73% proposed in the Consultation Document.”
“The philosophy at the heart of this Long Term Plan has four pillars. They are: a continued focus on infrastructure investment; support for economic development and the Covid-19 recovery; expanding environmental protection initiatives and providing good quality community facilities.”
“It was pleasing to see the level of community feedback on our Consultation Document. Most submitters were broadly in favour of the direction this Council is taking.”
“Thank you to everyone who made a submission or spoke to us in person. It was inspiring to hear from such a wide range of passionate Marlburians.”
“Council’s infrastructure spend this year is at a record level and increases even further to over $70 million in 2021/22 and $83 million in 2022/23. The biggest spending areas are in roading, sewerage and water supplies, reflecting our focus on core services, which is especially relevant to our housing challenges.”
He said submitters had indicated their support for two increased levels of service in infrastructure – an upgrade to the Redwood Street/Town Branch stormwater system and the purchase of new weighbridges for waste management.
“Submitters also supported more investment in the Council’s work to foster growth in the technology, food and screen sectors, and an allocation of funding from our Reserves to the Marlborough Events Centre for deferred maintenance and fixed operating costs. Submitters also supported more funding for environmental protection initiatives for freshwater and the processing of seabed mapping data of the Marlborough Sounds.”
“There was also support for funding several significant sports and recreation facilities, including pavilions at A&P Park and Horton Park in Blenheim, and a variety of community facility expenditure across the region. Submitters supported the setting up of the Covid-19 Rates Relief Reserve to smooth rates increases over the first three years of this Long Term Plan. There was also support for adopting the Development Contributions Policy, the 2021-51 Infrastructure Strategy and the 2021-31 Financial Strategy.”
Councillors supported a number of requests made by submitters today including:
- Moutere Rugby Club, Awarua Park, Spring Creek: a further $181k for upgrades to public toilets, the community centre and changing sheds
- Warmer Healthier Homes: further funding of $30k per year for three years
- Picton Christmas Parade: funding up to $1.5k per annum
- ‘Making Marlborough - The Immigrants’ Story’ video - $16k (subject to matching funding being sourced)
- Marlborough Youth Trust - an additional $10k annual operating funding
- Citizens’ Advice Bureau – additional $5k to its annual operating grant
- Edwin Fox – $11,150 for lighting improvements and a dry dock wall corrosion survey.
A large number of submissions were referred to the Council’s standing committees, LTP Working Group or the Council’s grant funding processes.
Councillors supported retaining the one hour free parking initiative in Blenheim and Picton CBDs, with a corresponding increase of 20% in the general parking hourly rate, from $1.50 to $1.80, the first increase since 2015.
Today’s recommendations will go to the full Council meeting for endorsement on 30 June. The new rates become effective on 1 July 2021.