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Better flood protection for the Kerikeri-Waipapa area and funding for Kaitaia’s public bus service are among a variety of measures that will take effect under the Northland Regional Council’s newly-adopted Long Term Plan 2012-2022.
Councillors gathered in Whangarei yesterday to formally adopt the plan, which maps out a path for the council over the 10 years until 2022, but with a particular emphasis on the next three years.
The adoption comes after the consideration of almost 1200 public submissions on a draft of the plan, with proposals for flood protection works and ongoing support for the region’s rescue helicopter service common themes amongst submitters.
Council chairman Craig Brown says funding the various measures outlined in the roughly 300-page long term plan (LTP) over the next 12 months will see the council take a total of $19,576,298 (incl GST) in rates for 2012/13, an increase of about 8.5%.
“That increase will add something like $16 a year to the average regional council rates bill.”
He says of the $19.5M rates, $9.85M will be paid by roughly 39,500 ratepayers in the Whangarei District, almost $6.98M by 35,000-plus Far North ratepayers and just under $2.75M by almost 12,800 Kaipara ratepayers.
Mr Brown says among new targeted rates adopted are one that will see the owners of approximately 4300 properties in the Kerikeri/Waipapa area pay a flat rate of $48.90 (incl GST) annually for maintenance and capital works for $2.1 million of flood protection measures over the next several years.
Initially, the new rate will collect about $210,189 (incl GST) annually, although this could eventually increase to about $320,000 once physical works begin in about 2014/15.
The rate will help pay for a variety of work within the Kerikeri, Waipapa and Wairoa River catchments, including construction of new stopbanks and spillways, channel works and possibly detention dams, designed to hold and gradually release floodwaters.
Mr Brown says as part of the submission process on the draft LTP, a number of submitters had asked the council to reassess the areas it believed would benefit from the scheme.
“The council plans to raise this issue as soon as is practicable with its Kerikeri-Waipapa River Liaison Committee, whose members include representatives of the Far North District Council, the Department of Conservation, iwi, ratepayer, local business and environmental groups.
Mr Brown says another item of big flood-related expenditure signed off under the LTP yesterday will be a roughly $7M detention dam to be built in Whangarei in 2013/14.
Another new targeted rate of $15.27 (incl GST) annually will be levied on roughly 6000 ratepayers in the wider Kaitaia area to help pay for the town’s public bus service.
Councillors also agreed to slow the move of council’s investment income from rates subsidies into economic development so that this happens over 10 years instead of five.
“Essentially, we’ve listened to submitters and tried to balance a number of competing factors as best we can in a way that’s fairest to as many people as possible,” Mr Brown says.
“The LTP we’ve passed does slow the redirection of our investment income - which will help soften rates increases in coming years – but still allows us to inject an extra roughly $500,000 annually to increase our efforts in water quality and pest management initiatives.”
Mr Brown says councillors had greatly appreciated the effort and time Northlanders had spent outlining their views to the council during the LTP process, both through written submissions and personal presentations.
“It’s never an easy job delivering an LTP, however, my fellow councillors and I have found this public input invaluable.”
Mr Brown says staff will be writing to all submitters over the next week to thank them for their submissions and advise them of the outcome of the specific issues they had raised.
He says the final LTP will be available online from early next week via the council’s website www.nrc.govt.nz/ltp