Environmental and resource management continues to be a strong focus in the Taranaki Regional Council’s draft Long-Term Plan for 2012-2022, which the Council adopted today (21 February) ahead of public consultation from mid-March.
Outlining programmes and budgets for the next three years in detail and a further seven years in outline, the Plan shows that environmental and resource management, including biosecurity, will continue to account for more than half the Council’s spending.
“Maintaining a quality environment is critical to keeping Taranaki thriving and prosperous,” says the Council Chairman, David MacLeod.
“Over the next 10 years, the Council will focus mainly on promoting the sustainable management of our land, air, water and coastal resources. The sustainable management of these resources is fundamental to maintaining a sound economy into the future.”
He says the Council’s other activities in transport, civil defence, flood protection and culture and recreation, are also important factors in the lifestyles pursued by the Taranaki community.
The draft Plan proposes a general rates increase of 3% for the 2012/2013 year, and rates increases at or below the rate of inflation until 2022.
“For the average residential ratepayer, the 2012/2013 increase represents a total of $10 for the year, or less than $1 a month,” says Mr MacLeod.
“We are currently ranked as the Council with the lowest rates per dwelling in New Zealand, and we’re confident we will keep this ranking into the future.”
The draft Plan also spells out the Council’s proposed future involvement with Yarrow Stadium – a connection that began 10 years ago when the Council provided $9.6 million for the development of the world-class facility at what was Rugby Park.
Now, through a council-controlled organisation (charitable trust) the Taranaki Regional Council proposes to assume control of the stadium from New Plymouth District Council, and also transfer the TSB Superscreen from Sport Taranaki.
“The stadium’s value to the community is beyond doubt,” says Mr MacLeod. “It has already hosted two All Blacks Test matches and three Rugby World Cup matches, with future international fixtures on the cards. It has also been the venue for Super 15 Games and other events.”
However, funding for maintenance and development does not occur currently, and regional control and a region-wide funding base will secure the stadium's future, allowing the facility to be appropriately maintained and developed.
Regional ratepayers will not notice the change. The stadium's initial regional funding of $9.6 million was covered by a combination of uniform charges across the region and targeted rates in New Plymouth and North Taranaki. This arrangement ran from 2002/2003 to the financial year ending in June 2012.
“Essentially, the Council proposes to continue this rating into the future to fund maintenance and development of the stadium,” says Mr MacLeod.
A summary of the draft Plan will be circulated with community newspapers in March, and the full document will be available for inspection at District Council offices and libraries, and on the Taranaki Regional Council website, before public consultation starts on 12 March.