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What is a Long Term Plan?

A Long Term Plan is a 10-year budgeted plan that your Council puts together once every three years for all the work we do on your behalf.

Do we get a say on it?

Yes. A Long Term Plan for the next 10 years (2021-31) can’t be adopted by Council until we have consulted with you.  The consultation document about the plan will be available from 7 April 2021, when consultation opens. We’d love your feedback- but by 5pm 7 May 2021. 

When is the consultation period for the Long Term Plan 2021-31?

7 April to 5pm 7 May 2021 

How can I find out more?

When will I get my consultation document?

The consultation document will be available digitally from 7 April.

Physical copies will be available in our offices and libraries and at our drop-in sessions as soon after this date as possible. 

How can I provide my feedback?

Once consultation starts on 7 April you can:

Rates: up or down, and how will that affect me?

Rates are going up because the cost for the work that we do for you is rising. Individual rate increases overall will vary depending on your property type (residential, lifestyle, rural, commercial or industrial), your property value and location, and the services available to you.  The rate increase is only charged on your General Rate charge (which is fixed to your capital value). See the consultation document for some examples. 

 

We have grappled with the challenges of growth and the uncertain economic outlook due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.  

 

Also, central government directives will impact local councils in years to come:  in particular, legislative reform in the three waters area (drinking water, wastewater and stormwater) and National Policy Statements that relate to urban development (the growth in and around towns) and freshwater management.  

 

The reality is that meeting these directives, like the three waters financial challenge, is going to impact on the rest of our business activities. While our response to COVID-19 has been strong as a country, and our district’s sound productive sector has us well-placed to recover from any global recession, we also know that there are certain sectors and parts of our community that are struggling. We aim to respond to this by balancing the need for growth and investment, with rates affordability.    

 

The impact of the district’s rating valuation is also still unknown. The start of the process was postponed due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. You can check your property details for the impact when it becomes available from 1 May 2021 at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/RID. 

What am I being consulted on?

Do you think: 

 

  • We should continue to provide the kerbside inorganic collection service,  

  • We should sell our pensioner housing portfolio and, 

  • About our options for general rates increases. 

 

As well as these specific topics, there are a number of other consultations running at the same time including: user fees and charges, development contributions policy and the community hall catchment review. 

 

**For more on these, see ‘other consultation FAQs’. 

What’s the difference between general rates and targeted rates, and what is the UAGC? 

Your rates are made up of two types: general rates and targeted rates.  

 

General rates primarily pay for Council services that are available to all properties in the district (like roading, parks and reserves, libraries).  

 

Targeted rates are a user-pays rate, which covers services (such as water, wastewater, rubbish and recycling collections), and these are charged according to the location of your property and the services available. 

 

The general rate is made up of two parts; one is variable and is linked to the value of your property, and one is a fixed charge that is the same amount for every property.  The fixed charge is called the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC). 

How will a 9% increase in the general rate affect my property? 

If Council’s preferred option for the rates increase is adopted, the total general rate that is collected for the whole district will go up 9% in year one. The effect this has on individual households will be different depending on the capital value of your property. 

A reminder – the impact of the district’s rating valuation is still unknown due to delays, so you will need to check your property details for the exact rates impact when it becomes available from 1 May 2021 at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/RID

Properties were revalued in 2017/18 and some properties in the district rose higher in value than others.  The variation in how capital values have risen will affect the impact of the general rate.  If your property value increases more than the average increase, then your rates are likely to rise.  If your property value increases by less than the average, then your rates will not rise as much, and for some properties the rates may not change much or might even fall. 

We do not collect more rates just because property valuations have increased.  By law we can only collect the rates required to do the work that you need. 

 

Who pays targeted rates?

You only pay targeted rates for localised services like wastewater and rubbish collections if you own a property with access to these services. 

I live rurally – what do I get for my rates? 

The general rate pays for services that are available to everyone in the district, even if you live further away.  It covers the cost of roads, parks and reserves, libraries and so on. We understand roads are of high importance for our rural residents and ratepayers. With the establishment of the Waikato District Alliance, our response time to customer requests for roading work has dropped from an average of six days to less than two days. 

Who can I talk to about this Long Term Plan consultation? 

Pop along to your nearest drop-in session. Details on where and when are at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/ltp 

 

You can also talk to your local Ward Councillor.  Contact details for all Councillors are on our Councillors are on our website here

What does an audit opinion mean?

The Local Government Act 2002 requires the Auditor-General to audit the consultation document and the Long Term Plan (LTP). For both, the audit report must cover the auditor’s opinion on:

  • whether the document gives effect to the purpose set out in the Act;
  • and the quality of the information and assumptions underlying the forecast information provided in the document.

The purpose of the consultation document is different to the purpose of the LTP. In auditing the consultation document, Audit determine whether it provides an effective basis for consultation (with a particular emphasis on whether it fairly represents the matter(s) a council proposes to include in its LTP).

What is an emphasis of matter?

The inclusion of an emphasis of matter paragraph doesn’t mean that the auditor has found anything wrong. The auditor simply wants to draw the readers’ attention to something that’s important. Audit have previously described an emphasis-of-matter paragraph as the auditor’s way of calling out “Hey, reader! Make sure you take a note of this.”

For every territorial local authority, the auditor has included an emphasis of matter paragraph in the audit report to draw readers’ attention to the council’s own disclosures about the proposed three waters reform. Although councils have prepared their consultation document as if these services will continue to be provided by the council, future decisions might result in significant changes. However, because no decisions have yet been made, councils simply don’t have the information available to present anything but the status quo.

A number of emphasis of matter paragraphs have also drawn readers’ attention to the delivery of capital expenditure programmes. For those, the auditor has gained assurance that the council’s forecast programme can reasonably be delivered. However, there is still a high degree of uncertainty because of matters like the availability of contractors and suppliers, and what other councils and organisations might be planning. The audit report on a council’s consultation document might include other emphasis of matter paragraphs for other reasons.

 

Consultation Topic FAQs

Rates

Why is Council’s preferred option of a 9% general rate increase higher than the other option? 

Councils preferred option is a 9% increase in year one, followed by annual increases of 3.5% in years two and three.  

 

The other option is a 7% increase in year one, followed by increases of 5% and 4% in years two and three respectively.  

 

Council’s preferred option costs ratepayers slightly less than the other option.  

Inorganic kerbside rubbish collection 

If Council’s preferred option is adopted and we no longer get the inorganic service, what do I do with the inorganic material that Council will no longer collect? 

Firstly, you can try to repurpose it or offer it to your friends, family or community. If you don’t have any luck with this, you can take it to your nearest transfer station/dump. In the Waikato district these locations can be found on our website here.  

Pensioner Housing

We are proposing to change the way we deliver pensioner housing. We want to invite social housing providers to buy our pensioner housing off us so these can continue to be used as social housing to help our elderly community. We think this is a better option than Council continuing to be the landlord.

Why are you carrying out a Pensioner Housing review?

The welfare of our Pensioner Housing tenants is important to the Council.  We believe that there are better ways of providing Pensioner Housing. Because Pensioner Housing is a strategic activity the Council is required to review the way the activity is provided and to consult with the tenants and the community. 

What are you recommending?

Staff are recommending to the Council that the entire Pensioner Housing portfolio is transferred to a sympathetic social housing provider.  It is important us that tenants are well looked after.  The new owner would be required to:

  • Keep all existing tenants (providing current tenancy obligations are met) – meaning that no existing tenant will be left without a home as a result of any sale.
  • Keep the Pensioner Housing properties for social housing purposes for at least 10 years after any sale – they cannot be used as private rentals, or on-sold on the open market.
  • Keep the same overall number of social housing units so that there is no decrease in the number of units available for social housing in the District.

Why are staff recommending transferring the Council’s Pensioner Housing portfolio to a sympathetic social housing provider?

While our team strives to provide the best service possible, social housing is not Council’s core business. We believe a sympathetic social housing provider would provide a better, more “wrap-around” service to tenants.

Why doesn’t Council just continue to offer a pensioner housing service?

We provide subsidised rental housing to a small number of elderly people, provide a lease and tenancy management service, and provide facilities maintenance.

We don’t provide any comprehensive “wrap-around” services such as pastoral care, community activities, assistance with appointments, additional social services, significant capital upgrades or have access to Government funding.

We also do not have funding to expand or enhance the service, and our portfolio requires extensive modification and investment for it to remain fit-for-purpose.

Would you sell the units on the open market?

Even though it is an option, it is not Council’s intention to do this. The Council would only transfer the Pensioner Housing portfolio to a sympathetic social housing provider.

What happens if you don’t attract any potential buyers from the social housing sector?

Other Councils have successfully transferred their Pensioner Housing portfolios to social housing providers in the same way.  There are many professional social housing providers who have resources and capacity to purchase the portfolio.

The decision to sell to a sympathetic social housing provider has already been made hasn’t it?

No. We are very much at the start of the process. Under the review, all reasonable options must be presented to the community in the 2021-31 Long Term Plan Consultation Document. Waikato District Councillors will consider all public submissions when they make a decision on the future of Council’s Pensioner Housing portfolio.

What are the other options being put forward in the review?

While council staff recommend the option of transferring the Pensioner Housing portfolio to a sympathetic social housing provider, we are required to present other options, such as:

  • Continue to provide the Pensioner Housing service in the same way.
  • Retain the Pensioner Housing service and increase investment to enhance levels of service.
  • Contract out (continue to own assets but lease them and the service to another provider)
  • Sell the Pensioner Housing portfolio on the open market.

What’s the bottom line?

We think that a professional, sympathetic social housing provider can provide a better-quality service for our tenants.  Transferring the Pensioner Housing portfolio to a sympathetic social housing provider will benefit the tenants, and the ratepayers of the district.

 

Other Consultation FAQ / More Info

Alongside the LTP, we are also running a number of other consultations. These are all available at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/sayit and are open from 7 April to 7 May. 

What changes are being proposed in the draft user fees and charges? 

We are proposing a number of changes to our user fees and charges for the next three years with some minor adjustments for inflation and reflection of actual costs for services. More significant changes include:  

  • Removal of overdue library fees   
  • Adding a new boat ramp usage pass for single or annual use  
  • Three newly proposed category fees for commercial events that are based on the number of people attending events on our reserves  
  • Increase to stock impound fees   
  • Building consents – a number of new fees proposed to cover the actual cost of processing using a new electronic system for customers, for reviewing historic building consents, for building consent exemptions and for applications for works over or adjacent to water pipes   
  • An increase in monitoring fees to recover actual costs  
  • A new fee to cover the actual costs for large scale development which require coordination of a project team to assess activities across multiple areas within Council  

 

The fees and charges document outlines in more detail other proposed changes and can be found at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/ltp 

What is the development contributions policy all about? 
Development contributions is money that developers pay towards the costs of infrastructure required for growth. This could include water supply and wastewater pipes, roads and footpaths, parks and reserves. The policy outlines in more detail how development contributions works in our district. You can find a copy of this policy at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/ltp 
What is the community hall catchment review all about? 

We’ve been reviewing the catchment area and targeted rate of each hall in the Waikato district. Each hall committee has suggested changes to how much ratepayers should fund the hall, based on how much they need to cover their operating costs, and a revised catchment of their hall. These options are included in our community hall catchment review.  

 

Five halls have been prioritised at this stage in the process. These halls are Karioitahi Hall, Aka Aka Hall, Otaua Hall, Naike Hall and the Te Akau Community Complex.  

 

For more information, seewww.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/sayit

We’re also indicating we will be looking at the Raglan foodwaste collection service again 

The Raglan Community Board has requested Council consult on a targeted rate to allow the continuation of the Raglan food waste collection service run by Xtreme Zero Waste (XZW).  

 

In light of the community consultation carried out in 2019 on this topic which confirmed that the community wants the service but aren’t prepared to pay higher rates for it, Council will not be consulting on this matter in this LTP.    

 

However, given the perceived value of the service, Council’s Waste Minimisation Management Plan commitments and the national desire to implement such a service nationwide within the next few years, staff are working with XZW, the Ministry for the Environment and other potential funding partners to secure the continuation and possible long-term expansion of the existing Raglan food waste trial. This may take the form of seed funding, community grant or a combination of the two.  

 

We also want a steer from the community on our proposed change to funding 

**Please note: This is not a formal consultation topic. 

With the growth and compliance challenges ahead, we want to make sure every dollar works its hardest for our communities.  As always, we need to focus on core services, but believe we have a role in supporting community-identified initiatives that are important at the local level to truly build livable, thriving and connected communities.   

  

We are reviewing the way we currently support local initiatives, and we propose to move away from just giving out grants and instead, target Blueprint and other initiatives that our communities tell us are their priority projects.  

To make every dollar work harder, we are proposing to re-purpose some of the funding that Community Boards, community groups and ratepayers and individuals receive to act as seed-funding.  This will kick start match-funding to grow and leverage the amount available to local communities for the long-term. Council grants (e.g. events, heritage, conservation funds and  

 

Community Boards discretionary funds) will move to a more streamlined process until their current funds are used up (known as a “sinking-lid”). We’ll help and encourage these groups to work with the community as Blueprints and community initiatives are reviewed and/or established, to gain support for future projects.  

  

In summary, we are looking at the following:  

  • The funding budget will be re-aligned to focus on the community and Blueprint initiatives to drive our vision of livable, thriving and connected communities 
  • Council’s funding budget remains the same as previous years - no more money is being requested 
  • The change from grants into community and Blueprint initiatives budget will reduce administration costs, enabling more money allocated to the community and Blueprint budget 
  • The new community and Blueprint initiatives budget will enable the Council to seek match funding to increase the budget allocated to each community 
  • The larger we can grow the community and Blueprint budget the more money can be spent in our communities 
  • Existing budgets will remain with Community Boards or groups, and a sinking-lid approach will be taken until the budget has been spent each year 
  • The staff involved in supporting the community and Blueprint initiatives will work directly with Community Boards, Committees and community groups to deliver their community and Blueprint aspirations.  

  

Although this is not a formal item for consultation, we still want your feedback. Do you support us in this approach? Yes or no? Tell us what you think as part of your submission at  www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/sayit