Council's 20-year plan to spend almost $1 billion on projects in Horowhenua

The Horowhenua District Council is proposing to spend almost $1 billion on projects in the district over the next two decades, putting rates up 6.7 per cent for the first two years.
The Long Term Plan is open for community consultation and sets out services and projects the council hoped to deliver, and how it proposed to fund them.

Mayor Bernie Wanden said the areas population was expected to almost double within 20 years, which would increase demand on existing infrastructure and community assets.

Were proposing considerable investment in the core infrastructure of our district, whether that is building it new, upgrading, or improving the maintenance of what we already have, to be able to cope with the increased demand.

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Wanden said the council was facing a challenging environment and must respond to these challenges while trying to reach a balance between loan and rate funding.

We are aware that affordability is an issue for many in our district, we continue to work hard to keep any rates increase as low as possible, and as a result, we are proposing a number of funding options including the possibility of reintroducing development contributions, he said.

The community were encouraged to attend consultation events, drop in sessions and make a submission with their thoughts.

Councillor Sam Jennings was concerned about the proposal to increase the councils debt levels and the scale of the proposed rates increase.

He was the only elected anggota to vote against the adoption.

While we should always be mindful of what services and projects our community is willing to pay for, ultimately it is rates affordability that should drive most council decisions.

We cant expect people to pay more rates than they can afford.

He said the cost of delivering council services increased each year, but raising rates and debt levels to unaffordable levels was not acceptable.

Jennings was also concerned about the lack of a clear strategy or vision behind the proposals.

He said elected members adopted projects that they had limited or no detail about, no business cases or feasibility studies and no consideration of how they fit with council's overall objectives and vision.

We should have been driving the strategy, and we simply have not.

Jennings said he could not support a plan that was formulated without a evidence that the projects were needed, appropriate and represented good value for money.


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