The 2014/2015 Annual Plan adopted by Council, Wednesday 25 June 2014, signals a ‘steady as she goes’ approach to Council’s programme of work for the year beginning 1 July.
1/07/2014 9:41 a.m.
The Plan aligns fairly closely with the course charted for year three of the 2012/2022 Long Term Plan (LTP), with a few minor adjustments following the consultation process and to accommodate changes not anticipated when the LTP was prepared.
“The theme of this Annual Plan is consolidation,” says Mayor Sheryl Mai.
“Simply put, this means Council is setting a budget and sticking to it, and prioritising projects to be included in that budget, and not spending where it doesn’t have to.”
Core Council activities such as transportation, water and wastewater services, parks and recreation facilities will continue to receive the funding they need to keep our community and its environment healthy, safe and well-functioning.
This year, an overall rates’ rise of 2.5% is required to cover the increasing costs of these activities, in line with the Local Government Cost Index.
Some projects have been either dropped down the priority list or deferred, including a number of Sense of Place and community infrastructure initiatives. Council will review the priority list as funding becomes available, and only pay for those activities and services it can afford, when it can afford them.
“At this point in time Council is focusing on maintaining a strong fiscal footing, which requires a tricky balancing act,” Mayor Mai says.
“A finite sum of money must cover a multitude of works and activities, and we’ve had to find ways to contain spending while not reducing services.
“This is compounded by our firm resolve not to include property sales in the budget until the properties are actually sold.”
The Plan also incorporates a number of new projects not foreseen or listed in the LTP. These include construction of the new war memorial in Laurie Hall Park, the creation of more inner city parking spaces on the site of the old Z petrol station in Water St, and the requirement to upgrade a number of community facilities as part of our commitment to hosting the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015.
“An Annual Plan is about adapting to and meeting our community’s current and future needs for quality local infrastructure and public services, while keeping rates affordable and ensuring we continue to grow,” Mayor Mai says.
“For Whangarei in the coming year I believe the 2014/2015 Annual Plan offers a prudent, fair and creative response to those requirements.”