The economic downturn is having its effects locally, and the Manukau City Council is responding to ensure that its strong financial position is not eroded.
The council is developing its Long Term Council Community Plan (10-year plan) and the present economic conditions will have a strong influence on how the council plans for now and the long term, Finance Director Dave Foster says.
“The council is in a strong position, with around $80 million in cash reserves. However, we also have around $25 million income budgeted for last year that has not come in as expected. This is because of a fall in regulatory consents, with a major reduction in financial contributions,” Mr Foster says.
“The effects of this on both the council and the community are significant.”
A councillor working party is working with staff to overview the council’s response to the economic conditions and measures are being taken to build on efficiencies already identified within the organisation.
“The council is going to have to strike a balance. We must ensure that our planning will meet the city’s needs for the next 10, 20 and even 50 years.
“However, there are many unknowns about today’s economic situation. We don’t know if the recession will bite deeper and longer, or whether it will be a shallow recession of short duration. We do know that we will be affected and we must factor this into our planning.
“The council will set its priorities carefully, taking care of the short term but keeping in mind the long-term good of the city and its ratepayers and recognising the burden on ratepayers.”
The council is developing its 10-year plan now, with the council reviewing the draft in early February, and final sign-off in March before public consultation in April.
Chief Executive Leigh Auton says as part of developing the plan, the council is seeking feedback from the public about what they see as the important issues for the city. The website www.tellusyourmanukau.govt.nz has been developed so that more people can easily provide feedback for the council to consider as it develops the 10-year plan.
“We want people to be involved in the planning for their city,” Mr Auton says.
“Now is the time to let the council know what’s important and it’s easy to do from home. The more people provide feedback now, the better we will understand what residents want as we develop the 10-year plan and set priorities.”