Tena kotou katoa and hello to you all Waikato District,
I hope this finds you keeping well as we head into winter and hunker down through the colder and darker months of the year. It is more important than ever that we look after our physical and mental well-being during these more challenging times and that we remain connected to those who can support us with this.
I wanted to take this opportunity to talk with you about Council’s Annual Plan process and what this all means to you - our ratepayers and residents.
Every three years, Council sets about developing a Long-Term Plan (LTP) in consultation with you, our community. The LTP is a key strategic planning document that sets out the agreed community vision, work plans and budgets for the next 10 years.
While Council must have a long-term view to be able to make sound decisions and plan well for them, 10 years is a long time, and a lot of things can change. So, every three years this plan is refreshed for the next decade to make sure it is still fit for purpose. This work is now underway and over the coming months we’ll be coming out to talk to you and to make sure that we are focusing on the right things – the things that matter to those who call our district home.
As a Council team alongside representatives from our Community Boards and Committees, ratepayers and with the support of Polis, we’ve recently developed some community outcome statements to help guide us on this journey to great. These aren’t just lofty ambitions for Council to deliver on, we want to work in collaboration with our community, stakeholders, and partners, to create tangible goals and to get the best outcomes for everyone in the district.
So, before we start our plan for the next 10 years and make decisions about the work programmes that we will fund, we want to hear from you about whether these statements reflect the kind of future you want to see for the Waikato district – find out more and have your say.
The 2023-24 Annual Plan (budget plan) covers Year 3 of the 2021-31 Long-Term Plan. It includes lots of projects set out in the Long-Term Plan, as well as how we will fund all the other facilities and services we provide. Take a look at our current Annual Plan 22/23.
With the continuing uncertainties in our economy and the impacts of inflation, rising interest rates, and recovery costs for damage caused by recent weather events to some of our communities such as North Waikato and Port Waikato, Council have had to take the step to agree on a rates rise that is above our indicated rate of 3.5 per cent (as set out in Year 3 the current LTP) and from 1 July 2023 will be implementing a rate increase of 7 per cent.
Letters confirming this proposed increase will be coming out to all ratepayers over the next few days and this will include information on how to access our online tool that calculates what this means for your unique property. We know that this is going to be challenging news for many and that the rising cost of living is hitting people hard. As a Council we are committed to always finding cost efficiencies and minimising the impact on our ratepayers, but the current environment is more challenging than ever for us as a business with increased costs to deliver the projects and services that our communities need and expect from Council.
Your local community boards and committees offer a place for you to connect with Council on these and other items of interest. You are always welcome to drop in and get involved or just listen to the discussions. Find out more about when these groups meet. I look forward to maybe seeing you at one of our community connections soon!
Ngaa mihi nui and warmest regards,
Mayor Jacqui Church