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Annual plan adopted, focus on debt reduction

 

Kaipara District Council commissioners adopted the Annual Plan 2013/2014 and amendments to the Long Term Plan 2012/2022 at a meeting held on June 25.

The new financial and operating plan for the council took effect from July 1.

“This plan sets the scene for the next financial year,” said commissioner chair John Robertson. “It addresses some of our big financial issues including reducing our level of debt more quickly and provides certainty to ratepayers on rates.”

The plan takes a more assertive approach to debt reduction with debt projected to be reduced to around $50 million by the year 2022.

The plan also introduces a simplified rating system. Included in this will be the removal of the separate roading rate with its differentials and the introduction of a two-tiered general rate – 100 percent for residential and lifestyle land under two hectares, and 155 percent for all other land use categories. This is aimed at reducing the complexity of the council’s rating system making it more understandable.
 
New approach to charges
The plan introduces a district-wide approach to charging for services with operating costs for stormwater, wastewater and water services being allocated evenly. The capital costs of each scheme will continue to be allocated to the users of each scheme.

The plan also introduces a targeted rate to collect an initial capital contribution for the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Scheme where property owners have not previously paid such a contribution via either a targeted rate or development contribution.

The portion of the debt that was previously allocated to the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration area will be allocated back to those who are in the scheme. This will ensure that those connected or able to connect will pay for a scheme as described in the 2006 Statement of Proposal.

The district as a whole will contribute to that portion of debt incurred as a result of a past council decision to expand the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Scheme capacity without public consultation.

Strong community support will see the number of rate instalments reduce from six to four a year. Anyone paying by automatic payment can continue to do so.
 
Grant approved for info centre
Commissioners confirmed that council has approved three requests for grants. The recipients are Surf Lifesaving Northern Region ($19,000), Mangawhai Information Centre ($3,700) and Sport Northland ($26,000).

The need for community groups to understand council’s criteria for making decisions on allocating council funds was raised in the submission process. The commissioners have asked staff to develop a policy framework and criteria which will guide the council’s community assistance decisions. The commissioners deferred making further grants until the policy is in place.

Council will be consulting with the community on this policy later this year. All those who requested council consider funding will be contacted. Once the policy is in place the council will again call for funding applications.

The commissioners praised staff for achieving the concentrated and challenging exercise of reviewing and resetting council’s priorities for the next nine years.

“Between them the members of the executive team have a skill set that would be the envy of many councils,” said John Robertson. “We are committed to turning council into the high performing organisation that ratepayers deserve, and having highly skilled and committed staff is important to achieving that goal as is the adoption of this plan.” 

 
 
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