Council leans into crunchy issues as they adopt consultation document

Published on March 22, 2023


The Long Term Plan (LTP) sets out the services and projects that Council will provide to the Horowhenua community all the way out to 2041.  This year Council proposes making changes to its rates policy, the future of the Levin Landfill and water projects through the Long Term Plan Amendment (LTPA). 

At an extraordinary meeting held on Wednesday 22 March 2023, Elected Members voted to formally adopt the LTPA and Annual Plan 2023/24 Consultation Document kicking off the consultation process, with formal community consultation beginning on Monday 27 March 2023 and running through until Monday 1 May 2023.

The inclusion of three waters assets beyond 2024 in the LTPA was met with an adverse, but lawful audit opinion from Audit New Zealand.

Mayor Bernie Wanden reflected on the audit opinion, concluding “while a positive audit opinion is important for our reputation, what we are doing for our community is the most important consideration.  I see this LTPA consultation document adoption as the curtain raiser to what will be an intense few months of important community engagement.”

With a Council not afraid to tackle the challenging issues, the first topic for consideration is a rates review. 

Mayor Bernie Wanden says, “Council committed last term to undertake a rating policy review to ensure that our rating system is seen to be fair and equitable across all sectors of the community. We know there are significant cost of living pressures for many residents, which sees some households spending 8-9% of their income on rates while some pay just 1-2%. There are differing reasons for this and it is important we understand the community’s views on whether they think the capital value or the land value rating system is best for our District.”  

A decision on the Future of the Levin Landfill is the second issue Council is consulting on.

As a district, Horowhenua needs to decide on the Future of the Levin Landfill this financial year. Operations at the Landfill are currently 'suspended' until Council makes a decision.

In 2019, the Levin Landfill Agreement set out a formal review of the Landfill closure date. From November 2021 to the end of January 2022, we consulted with the community on options for closing the Landfill. That consultation process should have offered a broader range of options - not just ones to close the Landfill. It should also have been connected to the Long Term Plan, which would have made it more transparent about the ongoing implications of each option. We are doing that now with the Long Term Plan 2021-2041 Amendment.

Water infrastructure is the third main issue up for consultation.  Upgrades across the district’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater networks are needed to keep up with population growth and ensure resiliency against climate change.

In the LTP 2021-2041, Council agreed to invest $121m into drinking water, $171m into wastewater and $29m into stormwater. We spread this work over the next 20 years to align with how much we thought the district would grow, when different pipes needed renewing, and how soon we’d reach the limits for the water and wastewater treatment plants. This also helped make things more affordable for our community.

Two key things have changed.  Costs have skyrocketed, and we can’t spread out the work as we thought because our infrastructure will reach capacity sooner than we expected, with some parts coming towards the end of their life.

Key investment includes a raw water reservoir to increase Levin’s drinking water storage capacity,  improving the capacity to filter water at our treatment plants, upgrades to our wastewater treatment plants and district-wide stormwater improvements to improve performance, reduce the chance of flooding and make us better able to deal with the effects of climate change.

Further information on all issues and topics, as well as a submission form, can be found in the LTP 2021-2041 Amendment and Annual Plan 2023/24 Consultation Document, which will be available online at from Monday 27 March 2023.  Hard copies will also be available from 27 March 2023 at Council's Main Office in Levin, Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō, Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, Shannon Library, Tokomaru Store, Waitārere Beach Four Square and the Manakau Store.

Submissions to the LTPA and Annual Plan close at 4pm on Monday 1 May 2023.

Submitters who wish to speak to their submission will have the opportunity to be heard on 10 & 11 May 2023. Deliberations on all submissions will then take place on 31 May & 1 June 2023. The final LTPA and Annual Plan will be adopted by Council on 28 June 2023.