Sunday, May 19, 2024

Hastings 10-year plan up for discussion next week

Hastings District Councillors will next week consider a 10-year draft Long Term Plan proposal for 2024-2034. 

The costs of the response and recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle, combined with escalating costs of the materials required to maintain and build infrastructure, interest rate, labour and insurance, have combined to put enormous pressure on the cost of delivering core services, the Council said in a statement.

The first year of the draft Long-Term Plan proposes a 25% rate increase; with 8% targeted to cyclone recovery and 17% to core services. The draft Long-Term Plan forecasts a 15% rate increase the year after (year two) and a 10% increase in year three.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said it was an “infrastructure delivery budget”.

“We are a district in recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle, rebuilding a resilient transport network as well as maintaining and investing in quality water infrastructure now and for the future,” she said.

“The cyclone-recovery rate would enable the continued repair and replacement of the
transport network and pay for Council’s contribution to the Category 3 Voluntary Buy-out Programme.

“Our transportation network was severely damaged through the cyclone, at a cost of $950 million. There were 13 bridges destroyed needing permanent replacements, and 80 more
have structural defects. More than 200 slips on the roading network require significant
engineered repair, and substantial work is also needed to install permanent culverts.”

The Mayor said rebuilding roads and bridges was essential for the economic and social wellbeing of the district and region.

“Our primary sector is the engine room of our economy and quality infrastructure is vital to support our food and fibre industry,” she said.

“We are working with the Government to seek as much funding support as possible, to
reduce the burden on our rate payers. This partnership with the government is critical for
our recovery.”

The Mayor said funding for cores services would be focused on non-cyclone road maintenance, the operation and improvement of three waters services and new infrastructure, and continuing to look after Council facilities, including parks, streets, community centres and libraries.

“This plan provides for a high level of service to ensure our infrastructure and services meet the needs of our people, and replacing core infrastructure in a timely manner so we don’t land up with costly, emergency repairs, in a way that accommodates our growing district.”

“I know this rate increase will be difficult, particularly for our people on low fixed incomes, but what we have been through over the past year and cost increases leave us with very few choices.

“That is why it is so important that you give us your feedback on this plan around the options we do have,” she said.

Hastings District Councillor Michael Fowler has led a working party which has closely scrutinised the finances to identify savings and reduce costs where possible.

“We have been through every part of the budget to look at where we can make cost savings, including what projects can be delayed to help reduce the rates burden, particularly in the next three years,” he said.

“Our budget projections focus on sustainably building back our cyclone damaged infrastructure without imposing a large cost burden on future generations.”

Once adopted, the full consultation document outlining costs, projected expenditure, and
priorities for investment will be available online from Friday, April 19, for the community to
read and give feedback on.

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