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Mayors Message



Councillors have spent time recently considering our Vision. The vision we "inherited" was “Kaipara where it’s easy to live". Having been in the role some nine months now we decided to consider its appropriateness. As a result, the vision we have adopted is "Thriving Communities Working Together". We believe this reflects our aspirations for our district more appropriately. A vision is very important for any organisation, everything that we do should hang off that aspiration.

Long Term Plan (LTP)
We have had many briefing sessions on the LTP covering each activity Council undertakes on your behalf. In Mangawhai last week we had a Councillor-only session to agree the priorities as we see them. Once a draft LTP is completed, which will include these priorities, it will go out to you for your input and feedback. Once the process is complete (as required by law) we will have our blueprint for the next 10 years.

So those priorities, in no particular order, are:

1 Deliver an acceptable level of day-to-day service to residents

This includes an ability to answer the telephone on time, turn around consents etcetera in a timely manner. This may seem very basic but we are not doing this in some areas today. Our people are doing their best but under-resourced, our telephone system being an example. We also need to have happy engaged staff for any of the above to occur. That is also not our situation today.

2 Roading

We now know that 20 percent of our unsealed network has no/little base metal. Without proper foundations repairs will never work. There is quite a cost here which will need to be approved and shared with the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA). We are very much in catch-up mode and unfortunately that will take time.

3 Mangawhai Community Plan

Deliver the big hit items within the Plan. Work needs to go into validating the priorities here but having the Plan is a great start.

4 Dargaville

We are still to identify the detail of what we would like to do here but maybe the word "refresh" sums it up. Issues also around infrastructure, water, section availability as well. This is a work in progress.

5 Smaller towns and communities

Most of our smaller areas have groups doing great work very often supported by Council staff. That is planned to continue.

6 Economic Development

Our thinking here is an incremental approach, firstly to assist our various communities to be great places to live and do business. Alongside that however we would like a couple of specific initiatives in the planning period, these will be around walking and cycling, the largest being consideration of the ‘Dargaville to Donnelly’s’ cycle trail.

7 District Plan

We believe this needs revisiting. Any changes will take time so that work needs to get started.

8 Debt

We need to have a targeted level of debt over this planning period. Even with the huge debt reduction that has been achieved over the last five years our debt is still at double the level of our peer group of New Zealand councils. Zero debt is not our aim, however debt needs to be at a level that ensures we can fund future infrastructure needs, the interest burden is manageable and our cost of borrowing is at market with only a standard risk premium. Councillors are yet to decide what that number should be.

Pine Forests
As I mentioned in an earlier column, Council has been out to Tender some 635 ha of pine forest that we own. Some is at maturity and the rest in various stages of growth. We received a number of tenders and have accepted one.

In most instances the land and trees are being sold as a parcel. There are two exceptions. The forest that is an integral part of our water collection north of Dargaville will be retained with only the cutting rights sold. The forest being the land that makes up the Taharoa Domain (Kai Iwi Lakes), the land will be sold however Council will require legal easements to future-proof access should this area ever be needed for recreation associated with the Taharoa Domain, walking and cycling being obvious examples.

Once the deal is signed I can let you know the price, suffice to say we are talking a number of millions of dollars.


Community Grants Policy
Julie Geange has led a sub-committee of Council to look at this area and put a better process around it. We allocate circa $100,000 to grants made up of $80,000 and $20,000 as a Mayor’s discretionary fund. I have never felt comfortable with giving away ratepayer money with no/little process so to that end the Mayoral Fund will be scrapped and incorporated into the other sum. Shortly on our website you will see the criteria against which funds will be allocated and on that basis whether it is worth you applying for your organisation. The overriding criteria aligns with our vision "Thriving Communities Working Together".

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