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Consultation on Waikato district’s draft 2024/25 Enhanced Annual Plan closes

Consultation on Waikato District Council’s draft Enhanced Annual Plan closed on Friday, with 224 submissions received.

While this year's response is higher than previous Annual Plan consultations, the submissions received to date reflect the current cost of living challenges in Waikato district communities.

The Council gathered feedback through the formal submission process and engagement events. Councillors have also been gauging the sentiment of comments in recent social media posts.

Waikato District Council acting chief executive Tony Whittaker says this is one of the most challenging Annual Plans he's been part of developing in his 15 years at the Council.

"The community consultation period is a crucial opportunity for the community to provide feedback. All feedback received helps our elected members to determine next steps and steer the district in the right direction, so we appreciate the time everyone has taken to share their views,” he says.

Submitters are given the opportunity to speak to their submission in person, and hearings are scheduled to take place from 14 to 16 May 2024 at Council Chambers, 15 Galileo Street, Ngaaruawaahia.

By law, Councils must review their Long Term Plan every three years. This year, central Government gave Councils the one-off option to delay their 2024-2034 Long Term Plan as part of the “Local Water Done Well” legislation and instead prepare an ‘Enhanced Annual Plan’ for the 2024/25 financial year.

The 2024/25 draft Enhanced Annual Plan proposed a 13.75% increase in the amount of general rate revenue required to maintain current service levels and deliver essential infrastructure projects. A number of targeted rate increases to provide services like water and wastewater are also proposed.

Whittaker says the Council's move to the 2024/25 Annual Plan and deferring the Long Term Plan was the best option for the district.

“Like many councils throughout the country, we have significant cost increases leading to affordability challenges and concerns,” he explains.

“We will use the additional time before preparing the next Long Term Plan to engage with our communities to reconsider the services and projects we provide.”