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AN upgrade of Makino Aquatic Centre and restoration of Kitchener Park have been given the green light in Manawatu District Council’s new Long Term Plan. And council’s new 'Vision' statement has also been confirmed: Connected, vibrant and thriving Manawatu – the best rural lifestyle in New Zealand.
Adoption of the LTP – which sets council’s intended activity and budgets for the next 10 years – was scheduled for tomorrow's (June 21) council meeting.
District Mayor Margaret Kouvelis said close to 200 submissions on proposals contained within the draft plan were received, with more than 150 people attending hearings to make their views known.
“We really want to thank all those who took part in such a positive and respectful way. We believe we have produced a plan, with help from our community, that will take us closer to our ‘Vision’ – and it is affordable.”
She said council had taken note of feedback against proposed changes to the rating system.
“We heard clearly that our community wanted to retain the system of targeted rates paying for specific activities. We also heard that changes to the differentials – affecting the proportion of rates paid by rural and town residents – should not change. We have, therefore, removed changes to the system – though we have amended some minor matters which we believe are in the best interests of the district.”
The proposal to enhance Kitchener Park was strongly supported by the community. Council has agreed to new funding – $150,000 from 2014/16 and $187,000 in 2012/19 – and to retain operational funding of $20,000 per year. Council also voted to create a trust to progress park developments within the next year, including exploration of private sector funding.
The proposal to upgrade the Makino also received support and will proceed, subject to development of a detailed business case. This project would start in the 2013/14 year and include a new learner’s pool, a children’s wet play area and covering the outdoor 50-metre pool at a cost of up to $3.2 million.
Other items to proceed as planned include improvements to the district’s parks and reserves, funding for the proposed Feilding Integrated Family Health Centre and investment in making the district part of a wider region that is the best place to ride a bike.
While council was able to progress many projects, some requests for funding were unable to be met.
“Being mindful of the tough economic times meant that we had some difficult decisions to make,” said Mrs Kouvelis. “That meant in some cases – including the project to develop a multi-sport facility at Feilding High School – we were unable to commit funding.”
She said this did not mean council could not see considerable merit in the proposal – but it was unable to commit $1.5 million at this time.
Another proposal declined by council was from Feilding Promotion, which asked for an increase in funding for two additional staff.
“While we value the tremendous contribution made by Feilding Promotion over the years, we have decided to stick with the existing funding commitment totalling $372,000,” said Mrs Kouvelis. “We will work with Feilding Promotion over the next few months to review its contract and ensure that council is funding the right activity to the right level.”
She said council would work closely with the organisation on strategic planning to establish outcomes it wanted to fund aligned to its strategic vision.