18 May 2018
Whanganui District Councillors deliberated this week on their long-term plan for 2018-2028, taking into account submissions and feedback from the community.
Mayor Hamish McDouall says the deliberations on Wednesday 16 May followed a well-managed planning period and decisions were achieved in a single day.
“This is a little unusual, but I think it reflects the months of preparation that have gone into this plan. Both staff and Councillors committed to a thorough process that resulted in a ten-year plan based on research and evidence about our district and the issues and opportunities we’ll be looking at over the next 10 years.”
Mayor McDouall says the agreed decisions will result in a rates rise of 4.6% for the 2018-19 financial year and an average annual rise of 2.4% is anticipated over the next 10 years.
A key issue was the cost and impacts of forestry harvesting on district roads. It was decided that a new targeted rate for exotic forestry properties should be implemented to collect $135,000 per annum.
Mayor McDouall says submissions on this issue were heard and taken into consideration. “The Council will work with the forestry industry to limit damage to district roads and lobby central government for additional funding.
“The economic benefit of forestry for our district is acknowledged by this Council and it’s important that we take our engagement with this industry seriously.”
The Council will allocate $25 million over 30 years to upgrade Whanganui’s stormwater network. Mayor McDouall says this will bring it up to a standard that will better cope with more frequent and more severe weather events resulting from climate change, starting with the highest priority areas.
The Council has also agreed to proceed with the Port Revitalisation Programme, providing a business case to central government is approved.
Four self-service library hubs will be established at a cost of $50,000 per hub over the next four years and the Council approved increasing the funding to the Whanganui Regional Museum, which will get an extra $50,000 in the next financial year and then an additional $50,000 thereafter.
Mayor McDouall says the contributions from the community via submissions were all valuable. “What we heard from the community was influential in our thinking, and in our decision-making.
“Some proposals raised through the submission process addressed issues like climate change management and earthquake-prone buildings. The suggestions brought to the table would have required an alteration in the current budget, but were compelling and will certainly be considered as these important matters are addressed by the Council.”
121 submissions were received on the draft long-term plan and over 50 of these submissions were presented in person during two days of submission hearings. Members of the public attended world café and online events and feedback was collated and included in the deliberations information.
Submissions and deliberations were live-streamed on the Council’s Facebook page.