Public feedback to open on Council’s Annual Plan

Published on 20 March 2020

Annual Plan.

Public consultation on Horowhenua District Council’s 2020/2021 Annual Plan will begin on 25 March following Council’s adoption of the ‘What’s Our Plan 2020/2021’ consultation document on 20 March.

Community Facilities and Events Manager Brent Harvey said Council is seeking public feedback on a splash pad for Levin’s Jubilee Park.

“The paddling pool at Jubilee Park is near the end of its life. It also poses a safety issue, because it’s not practical to have a lifeguard there. A splash pad would offer a safer, more modern way for toddlers and children to enjoy water play. They’re becoming popular across New Zealand, and we know there’s interest in the community in having one locally. We want to know whether or not our community would like us to build, or contribute to constructing, a splash pad in Jubilee Park,” he said.

Council’s Strategic Planner, Tiffany Gower, said the public will also have the opportunity to provide early input into Council’s Long-Term Plan 2021-2041, which Council will begin developing later this year. 

“We’re keen to hear about the major issues you think we need to consider as part of our next Long Term Plan, and the key challenges and opportunities facing our district,” she said.

Mayor of Horowhenua Bernie Wanden encouraged people to read ‘What’s Our Plan 2020/2021’ and participate in Council decision-making.

“Ensuring the voice of our community is reflected in Council decision-making is vital if we are to protect the lifestyle we cherish, improve our environment and accommodate more people as Horowhenua grows and we work towards our vision for our district’s future,” he said.

The Annual Plan 2020/2021 focuses on Year Three of the Long Term Plan 2018-2038, and sets out the projects Council will focus on in the 2020/2021 financial year.

With around 440 new homes needed every year to cater for the predicted population increase, Council will continue developing Master Plans for new residential developments in the district’s growth areas, including Waitārere Beach, Foxton Beach, and Gladstone Green in east Levin.

Other key projects include:

  • creating a Destination Management Plan to guide how to promote Horowhenua as a great place to live, work, and visit
  • planning to improve al fresco dining areas on Oxford Street in Levin
  • redeveloping Queen Street to better reflect the historical links between Lake Horowhenua and the Tararua Ranges, and to improve our environment
  • moving the last of the district’s treated wastewater discharges from disposal to a waterway to land-based disposal
  • continuing work on a new road to provide resilient access for properties along Gladstone Road
  • adopting the Horowhenua Integrated Transport Strategy and starting work on associated projects.

Council’s Chief Financial Officer, Doug Law, said by 30 June 2021 Council expects to have net debt of $115m, compared to the Long Term Plan 2018-2038 prediction of $105m.  

“Debt levels have risen because Council is budgeting for increased capital expenditure as we invest in new infrastructure to meet the demands of growth in our district. Using loans to fund new infrastructure is fairer to our current ratepayers because it means people who move to our district in the future will share the cost. This is because the interest and repayments on the loan are funded by rates paid over an extended period of time,” Mr Law said.

The consultation document proposes a rates income increase of 6.90%, which is slightly more than projected in the Long Term Plan 2018-2038. There are several reasons for the increase, including the district’s new and improved recycling service.

“The 6.90% increase is how much Council’s income from rates will increase by to cover the costs of the services, facilities and infrastructure we committed to provide. It’s not an average rate increase for properties across the district,” Mr Law said.

“Actual rates increases vary, and are influenced by things like availability of services; differentials – where some groups pay a lower rate than the rest of the district to recognise their unique needs and circumstances; and rating valuations.”

Rating valuations were carried out in 2019 by an independent valuer, Quotable Value New Zealand, and will affect rates from 1 July 2020.

Mr Law said the valuations will affect communities across the district differently, depending on whether property values in the area have risen more or less than the district average.

“A below average increase will likely have no impact on your rates or may even mean you pay less. An above average increase could mean you pay more in rates. For some communities, such as Hōkio Beach, land and capital values have gone up more than the district average, and they’ll have a higher rates increase, although their actual rates will still be relatively low overall in the context of the district. In other areas, such as Waikawa Beach, values have gone up by less than the district average and rates will either only have a small increase, stay the same, or may even decrease.”

People can check their proposed rates on the Council’s website at horowhenua.govt.nz/indicativerates

From Wednesday 25 March, the Annual Plan consultation document, What’s Our Plan 2020/2021, and the draft Annual Plan will be available on Council’s website at horowhenua.govt.nz/AnnualPlan2020/2021. People can provide feedback by filling in the submission form available online from horowhenua.govt.nz/AnnualPlan2020/2021, or in print from Council’s main office or Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō in Levin, Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom in Foxton, and the Shannon Library.

Public hearings will be held on 13 and 14 May at Horowhenua District Council. However, given the developing Covid-19 situation, Council will make a public announcement about the hearing closer to the time and after taking advice from the Ministry of Health.

Consultation closes at 5pm on Friday 24 April 2020.