Source: Northland Regional Council
The public is being asked for its views on the Northland Regional Council’s Annual Plan 2023/24.
Council Chair Tui Shortland says two years ago, the council had forecast an average rates increase of $45 (9.2%) for the 2023/24 year to keep work going and meet its Long Term Plan commitments.
“That plan laid the path to improve freshwater health, reduce the impact of pests and weeds, and grow our climate change and community resilience work – really critical work for our rohe, especially in light of the recent cyclone impacts.
“But with the recent rapid rise in inflation, everyone is feeling the effects, and as a council we’re not immune. Inflation is now nearly double what we’d originally budgeted.”
As outlined in its Long Term Plan, the originally planned 9.2% rates increase was to fund:
- Growing council’s climate change adaptation and community resilience work, and upgrades to the tsunami siren network
- More biodiversity and biosecurity work, including predator and pest-free work, and kauri dieback
- More environmental data and monitoring
- Support for on-ground catchment remediation work across the region through its environmental fund
- System upgrades to support its mahi
- An increase in CityLink bus services.
Chair Shortland says to offset inflation impacts and minimise further rates impacts, the council had combed the budget for savings and reprioritised work where it could.
Council is also no longer rating for the Oruku Landing convention centre, which is being supported through other avenues. These changes mean that the originally planned 9.2% increase for the year has been reduced to 8.9%.
The council was now considering three options; sticking to its original plan of two years ago (which would now mean an average annual rates increase of $40.65 or an 8.9 percent boost to its total rates take), making some proposed changes (an average rates increase of $47.30, a 10.2% increase in its total rates take) or doing even more (an average rates increase of $53.50 or an 11.4% boost to its total rates take).
Its preferred option, making some proposed changes, would see an average Northland Regional Council rates bill of $560 annually, and would enable it to do what it had originally planned plus:
- Lift its recruitment and remuneration budget to attract and retain the right skills and people in a changing employment market (about $830,000 a year)
- Cover cost increases in audit fees and IT support, and improve its remote meeting technology so it can work more efficiently (about $270,000 a year)
- Support actions in its Tāiki ē strategy, which is about iwi, hapū and council working together in partnership for the benefit of the environment (about $500,300 a year)
- Boost environmental management capacity with two new positions (about $113,000 a year)
Chair Shortland says since the council had originally set the budget in its Long Term Plan 2021-2031 the world had changed hugely.
“Meanwhile, the severe impacts of ex-tropical Cyclone Gabrielle have highlighted the critical importance of our work to support strong, adaptable and resilient communities into the future.”
Chair Shortland says the council is acutely aware of the need to strike the right balance – continuing to move forward, while recognising the pressures the region is facing.
“Before the council makes any decisions on changes to the budget, we want to hear from the public and feedback can be made until Friday 21 April.”