I'm thrilled to share some exciting updates with you. This week we adopted our Annual Plan 2023/24 that outlines what we plan to do this year and how it will be paid for. It ensures we maintain our infrastructure as well as upgrades and enhancements to our water supply, storm water and wastewater. There are other key projects that will foster sustainable environments and community outcomes. While there is a seven per cent general rate increase, we want to assure you that this increase is due to external factors that have greatly impacted our ability to continue to provide services and take care of infrastructure. We know that now more than ever, every dollar counts to you and your whaanau and we’re committed to making sure those dollars are working hard.
Ongoing infrastructure upgrades are vital to support the growth of our communities but are expensive to deliver. As the successful delivery of our services is as important to us as it is to you, our dedicated team will continue to work hard to deliver these crucial services to keep the district moving, healthy and resilient.
We are also actively working on internal and external projects to enhance community well-being and build safer, more resilient, and closely connected communities. We are continuously seeking ways to deliver services more effectively and efficiently, to maximise the value we provide to you.
Nationally, the Review into the Future of Local Government released a report last week that sets out some proposals around how local government in New Zealand needs to change to better address funding, sustainability, and other challenges faced by councils. It emphasises the need for resource transfer and highlights the crucial role of local authorities in addressing issues like climate change and social inequality. This is an opportunity for us to lead the way and create a better system for future generations – one that better supports outcomes that align with community goals; provides platforms for the many voices in our communities; and allows us to build strength and resilience. You can read a copy of the full report here.
Back to our district, we’ve identified in our Long-Term Plan areas of growth where we know that we need to set ourselves up to attract and retain residents and businesses now and into the future. For example, buying the site on the corner of Jesmond St and Great South Rd, means we have a block of 5225 sqm incorporating two Council-owned properties, being the old Waipa Tavern site and the existing Ngaaruawaahia Library.
It’s exciting news because it presents a real opportunity for us to be a conduit to the revitalisation of the Ngaaruawahia Town Centre, while also delivering commitments to provide the community with a new library and community hub. These are the developments that make our communities more liveable, thriving, and connected.
In other real estate news, we’ve also bought 23.7ha of land just outside the growing town of Te Kowhai. The initial plan is to develop the area into a multi-use community park with sports fields, a fenced dog park, and a carpark with walking connections to Te Otamanui Walkway.
This piece of land links in with our focus on promoting physical and mental well-being through active recreation, where the long-term positive benefits are far reaching within our communities.
It’s still early days on plans for both these pieces of land and we will be closely working with communities and mana whenua to take these initial plans and ideas through to fruition.
I'm excited about the possibilities ahead for this financial year and beyond. Together, let's stay engaged, share your ideas, and help shape our future for our community.
Ngaa mihi nui and warmest regards,
Mayor Jacqui Church