Annual Plan feedback urged

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Ashburton District Council has adopted its draft Annual Plan 2022-23 and the community has until May 6 to offer feedback and suggestions on it.

The draft plan outlines the operating budget for the coming year and currently means an overall average rates increase of 9.4 per cent, although that will vary across the district and depend on location and property values.

An online, virtual community meeting on the plan was held last Thursday and evening meetings were held in Ashburton, Methven and Rakaia earlier this week with councillors and council staff.

Ashburton mayor Neil Brown said the plan was a “no-frills” budget that detailed the work council has planned, how much it will cost and how it will be paid for.

us to purchase goods and services has risen sharply in the past year which is a major reason we’ve not met the 7.8 per cent increase anticipated in the Long Term Plan,

Budgets for some day-to-day services, particularly in areas where it’s likely to only have a small impact on the community, have been reduced.

He said if the community was willing to accept a reduction in the level of service in other areas, then further cuts could be made.

read through the consultation document and to give us their feedback.

“If we are to lower costs, we need solutions to be able to do it.”

Ashburton councillors spent seven days at budget workshops deliberating the draft plan.

An inflation rate of 5 per cent has been used, but indicators are that they may now be understated by 2 per cent.

Council is proposing to delay a few large capital projects including a new driveway entrance to Ashburton Domain, the domain promenade and an upgrade to Balmoral Hall to reduce costs.

Critical work that must be completed include upgrades to water infrastructure in Methven, Mt Somers and Rakaia.

Council has highlighted two key topics for feedback in the plan consultation.

It is asking if the standard of services should be reduced in order to reduce the rates demand and is also proposing to use $1.7 million from forestry reserves to accelerate the major roading repairs programme.

Another factor affecting rates is the impact of rating revaluations completed in the district last year.

There are significant increases in urban property values compared to rural property values, which means town rather than country ratepayers will be paying more.

The draft Annual Plan document is 168 pages long.

Public hearings on the plan are set for May 26. A week later there will be deliberations and a possible councillor workshop. The plan will be adopted by June 29 and take affect from July 1.

Residents can find out more and have their say on the Annual Plan at itsourplace.nz or they can request a copy of the consultation document from the council offices.

-By Mick Jensen