Ashburton rates drop under 10% as stockwater and Tinwald pool face the chop

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Swimmers enjoying the Tinwald pool.
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Stockwater services could be scrapped and Tinwald’s Pool may have been dealt a death blow after another round of council budget talks.

District councillors have also managed to shave another 2 per cent off proposed rates increases.

The councillors held long-term plan budget workshops in December that had signalled an 11.5 per cent average increase in 2024-2025.

Another budget workshop on Wednesday had that figure revised to 9.9 per cent.

The large proportion of the rate rise in 2024-2025 is a 29 per cent increase to the roading budget, and three waters compliance work.

There are five key issues the council will focus consultation on, including an end to stockwater services to rural properties and the Tinwald pool facing the chopping block.

The $3 million for an aquatic option is expected to receive plenty of feedback.

The consultation will present a new outdoor pool being constructed at EA Networks Centre (EANC) as the preferred option, to be designed next year and constructed in 2025-2026.

Alternative options are repairing the Tinwald pool, a new water play and paddling pool area in the Ashburton Domain, or hydroslides at EANC.

There was again plenty of debate among the councillors around what the preferred option should be.

Council chief executive Hamish Riach said that if the preferred option was kept, it “signals the Tinwald Pool is closed forever”.

Whichever option the council ends up going with, the other three are dead, Mayor Neil Brown said.

Another contentious issue is the council proposing to cease providing stockwater by June 2027.

The council is budgeting $175,000 to investigate and initiate the closure process, which includes identifying races that would remain open for their biodiversity and amenity value.

The exercise will signal “we are out in three years”, Riach said.

“How you water your stock, it will be up to you – we are out.”

It could be an opportunity for irrigation companies to deliver water to those who need it, Brown said.

Meanwhile, green waste bins will be introduced in 2026-2027.

The council will receive a substantial Government grant to offset the cost of introducing the 250-litre bins, but adding a third bin to the collection cycle will increase collection costs.

The green bins will be collected weekly alongside the red general waste bins, and yellow recycling bins fortnightly.

A $21m extension for the EANC stadium is being proposed for years five to seven of the LTP.

The stadium was originally built to be extended and the preferred option is for a three-court extension.

The message will need to be clear that costs will go up for user groups, Brown said.

Balmoral Hall and the neighbouring Polytech Land are also proposed to be sold, with the hall requiring at least $1.3m to repair.

The draft LTP will come back to the council on February 7 for another review before being adopted for public consultation on March 20.

  • LDR is local body journalism funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.