In May, the Council is seeking community feedback on the Annual Plan for 2016-17. The plan incorporates the Council’s budget for the year beginning 1 July 2016.
It impacts property owners, for revenue that supports the plan comes from rates. It impacts residents who use Council roads, for it funds maintenance on these roads. It impacts communities, for it funds services like libraries, the maintenance of Kaipara’s parks, and household services in our towns like waste disposal and storm-water.
Much of the plan and the policies that support it were developed last year as part of the Council’s Long Term Plan planning process for the ten year period ending 30 June 2025. The Annual Plan being proposed differs little from these proposals.
However we have been able to get some ‘wins’ since the Long Term Plan was signed off last year. Lower interest rates will be secured from rearranging our debt following Council joining the Local Government Funding Agency. Secondly, the settlement with the Office of the Auditor General has lowered debt levels, and therefore also provided savings. In addition, we have been very careful with spending over the last three years and managed to reduce our planned spend. As a result we can release some of the accumulated money.
Commissioners are proposing that some of these savings be applied to soften the rates impact on property owners this coming year. They will also be used to speed up our programme to reduce many years of deferred maintenance on infrastructure assets. We also need to invest in technology upgrades for our IT and telephone systems. Some of our back office systems are very dated, and struggling to cope with communication, both voice and data transfer, between the office in Dargaville and the one in Mangawhai.
Council Meetings in Mangawhai
Two Council sub-committee meetings will be held in Mangawhai this week, on Thursday April 21. Both are public meetings. They are the Mangawhai Endowment Lands Account Committee, and the Audit and Risk Committee.
The Mangawhai Endowment Lands Account Committee members include locals, Joanna Roberts and Alan Russek, and two Commissioners. This Committee will be deciding on grants to be made from the Endowment Lands Account to support community projects.
All three Commissioners make up the membership of the Council’s Audit and Risk Committee.
If you are considering standing for Council in the October elections, attending meetings like these will give you an idea on Council business and processes.
Details of the times and location of these meetings are included on the back page of this issue of the Focus, and on the Council’s website.
Letter to the Editor
In the last issue of Focus, Mr Christian Simon asked several questions.
He correctly noted that Council debt was sitting at $74 million. With the settlement from the Office of the Auditor General, and tight fiscal discipline over Council expenditure, this debt now sits under $70 million. He can rest assured that this includes all Council debt owing to banks.
He asks where debt paid down is sourced from. The answer is from property owners through rates and in some instances, development contributions. The settlement from the Auditor General is an exception of course.
He asks whether the Council finances are “…only manageable with further unlimited subdivisions.” The answer is no.
He asks for a $500,000 pedestrian and cycleway to be built from the Heads to the Village. I suggest that he gets involved with locals who are well practised volunteers at Mangawhai track design, development, and upkeep, and that he consults with them on proposals already underway.
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