This is the first article in a series about the work we undertake across our region. Next month we will focus on eastern Bay of Plenty, and our first issue of 2013 will look at Rotorua district.
Bay of Plenty stretches from Waihī Beach in the west to Lottin Point in the East, and south in a big V to a point just below the Napier-Taupō Road. The regional council area includes Tauranga city and Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatāne, Kawerau and Ōpōtiki districts, most of Rotorua district, and a small part of Taupō district.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman John Cronin says it is important for the regional council to keep a focus on the big picture and to look at the region as a whole.
"As elected members we represent the public and are accountable to the electors of the region - the whole region," Cr Cronin said.
"Most of our work is regional although there are some major projects that focus on specific areas. This series will look the projects and major programmes in each sub-region.
"Our work is funded from a mix of general rates, targeted rates, investment income, fees and charges and other revenue such as central government subsidies, and reserves.
"Over the years we have carefully managed our resources and investments and as a result we have been able to keep rates low and establish financial reserves. We are now investing some of these reserves in the regional community - over the next few years they will be reduced substantially. This will in turn reduce the amount of operational revenue that is available to reduce rates."
Tauranga and the western Bay of Plenty
"While we focus on regional environmental and economic priorities, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has spent, and continues to spend, many millions of dollars each year to community priorities in the western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga," Chairman Cronin said.
Tauranga and the western Bay of Plenty - key programmes and projects
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council undertakes many programmes that positively contribute to Tauranga and the western Bay of Plenty.
Chairman John Cronin said where projects were recognised as a regional asset or have a regional benefit, as in the Tauranga Harbour Programme, they were funded 100 percent from general funds, otherwise funding sources and mixes varied.
"Tauranga Harbour is a major feature of the western Bay of Plenty. The new Tauranga Harbour programme focuses on managing and protecting Tauranga Harbour's natural resources in an integrated and coordinated way. The programme coordinates various workstreams on the Harbour and its catchment across eight distinct areas of work," Mr Cronin said.
Public transport for Tauranga is a major project, with passenger numbers rising considerably in recent years.
"This year we expect to spend more than $10 million on Tauranga passenger transport, on nearly two million passenger trips - up from just 1.3 million trips three years ago - a massive increase," Mr Cronin said.
Passenger Transport funding is split with 35 percent from Central government, 30 percent from fees and charges, 14 percent from general funds and 21 percent from targeted rates.
The Rena response and recovery programme has been a major focus during the last 14 months. While today there are fewer staff involved, the regional council still has a long-term role in many aspects of the Rena response and in the recovery programme. This is being undertaken as part of the normal course of work.
Staff were committed to working with industry, councils and landowners in both rural and urban areas to reduce erosion, sediment, pollutants and other run-off from from getting into waterways and ultimately into the harbour, Mr Cronin said. Catchment action plans were prepared for 16 Tauranga Harbour sub-catchments to identify priorities and targets for planting and fencing riparian margins.