Plan for uncertain times

Published on 28 August 2023

Photo of Mayor Vince Cocurullo in the mayoral robe and chains.

The weather may have changed, yet it has left some lasting effects on the finances of our Whangārei District, and now more than ever we need to work together.

Councillors have been working for some time on the District's 2024-2034 Long Term Plan that sets the priorities, budget and outcomes for the community in the next 10 years. It will be coming out to you for comment in March 2024.

Our discussions reinforced that we need to make sure we have reliable assets and services for all our community. That also means working out a fair way to find funds for them. We currently use rates, government subsidies and user-pays, and these sources of all very stretched.

Global, national, and local situations out of our control are affecting our nation and our District and it is sobering.

The things we use as a Council to build and maintain the District are harder to get, taking longer to get here and are costing more. At home we are facing inflation, weather events and skill shortages.

Our job as a council is to solder on, by making a good plan for the coming years, then working to it, and sticking together as a community.

One challenge is finding the skilled people our partners and contractors need to serve our fast-growing community. In the next ten years we are predicting a high growth population, and there will be a huge number of people retiring. 

This year, month after month of severe weather has had an immense effect on our infrastructure. We need to get this repaired and find ways to reduce the scale of any future damage. This is causing challenging discussions for communities, councils, central government agencies and industry alike.

Issues unique to New Zealand and our Councils include central government reforms. If Three Waters goes ahead it will cut millions of dollars of income from Council’s books, millions of dollars of value from Council’s assets. This will then affect the interest rates that our Council pays on borrowing.  If we can’t borrow as much at lower interest rates, it pushes up the prices for todays and tomorrow’s ratepayers.

In summary, these are times of great uncertainty for our Council.

We all acknowledge that everyone has a right to clean drinking water, sanitary waste disposal, safe roads, enough land to build houses on, a healthy environment and protection from severe weather events.

This means we will need to develop a plan that the community agrees with and is willing to commit to, especially when times are tough.  The Whangārei Council will be releasing more information between now and the start of the consultation, for the Long Term Plan in March.

To create a strong reliable future for Whangārei we need to work together, looking for solutions and collaborating on this plan is a good way to start.

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