Marlborough District Councillors maintained a firm line against new spending as they considered the public submissions on the draft Long Term Plan, ensuring the overall average rate increase across the region for the year ahead can be held down to about 3.5%.
A number of funding requests or project proposals were referred to Council committees for future consideration but, overall, few additions were made to the expenditure already set out in the draft Plan.
Councillors did agree to new spending of $60,000 in response to the Grow Marlborough Forum’s request to help fund a regional events manager and Sport Tasman won support for a $10,500 boost to its budget.
“Christmas in the Park” will be run again this year after a one-off allocation of $4000 was made to promote and advertise the event.
Councillors also wanted to support Marlborough’s two emergency helicopters; the Life Flight Trust and the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter each get $10,000 in new funding.
The Awatere community’s pitch for upgraded facilities received a sympathetic hearing and $48,000 was allocated for repairs to the memorial hall and the community hub building in Seddon, with other infrastructure requests referred to Council’s Assets and Services Committee for further consideration.
Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman says most people appreciated that, this year, there was very limited room to move on requests for new spending.
“Councillors have concentrated on those projects that have direct benefit to the community. We’ve taken a very prudent approach to what has proved to be essentially an ‘infrastructure only’ budget,” he said.
The projects that will be funded through new spending or from funds carried forward from existing budgets tended to be those that involved urgent work which, if delayed further, would have simply cost far more further down the track, he said.
The impact of all yesterday’s decisions is pointing to an overall average rates increase of 3.57% with the final figure to be confirmed before Councillors meet again at the end of this month to strike the rates for the next financial year.
Note: Full Council meeting, 3pm Thursday June 28, to adopt Long Term Plan 2012-22 and set rates).