Tauranga City Council today released a summary of its Draft Ten Year Plan.
The "Ten Year Plan" is like a contract between the Council and City residents outlining the activities, projects and services the council will provide - and how much they will cost.
In this case, from year three of the plan, there is more work to be done than there is money to pay for it.
This means the Council has some tough decisions to make.
Tauranga City is one of the lowest rated districts or cities in New Zealand* and yet has the one of the highest rates of growth. Growth brings many benefits to the city but also brings huge costs and 'funding dilemmas' as the need to future-proof reaches a critical mass.
Tauranga is unique - it has an abundance of natural resources and increasing numbers of people coming to live here. It has fast growth - too fast for the infrastructure already here - and has done everything right when it comes to planning ahead and knowing what is needed. This knowing what lies ahead - outlined in SmartGrowth** - is a key factor in our ability to accurately predict the financial sustainability issue outlined above.
Feedback to the Mayor and Councillors about what you would like to see being focused on for the future is going to be a very important element in their decision-making.
So make your submission using one of the forms in the Draft Ten Year Plan Summary document coming out in this week's Bay News (delivered to every home in the City) on Wednesday. If you don’t receive this you can go to the Council's website (www.tauranga.govt.nz) or call us on 577 7000.
Submissions can be made electronically, in writing, or over the phone. Submissions close Friday 24 April 2009.
Cutting back on doing things is one option - although the Council has already pared back around $250 million from original budgets presented. Finding more income is the other option - this can mean increasing rates on property or increasing user fees and charges.
The Mayor and Councillors have reviewed both these ideas and have proposed some minor changes but not significant ones.
For next year the proposed rates increase in the draft Plan equates to approximately $75 per average residential property.
The Mayor and councillors will be at Community Open Days around the city over the next few weeks listening to what the residents and ratepayers of Tauranga have to say.
*An example of a city that has similar growth issues is North Shore City. Their average residential rates are about $500 more per year than Tauranga. And their long term funding predictions for their planned work programme is sustainable because of this. Tauranga City's is not.
** SmartGrowth is the 50 year 'growth management plan' for Tauranga and the Western Bay.