Waikato Plan will bring region’s key players together
A group of Waikato MPs and iwi representatives have been briefed by the Waikato Mayoral Forum on proposals for a three- year work programme to help boost the regional economy and deliver multi-million dollar cost savings for ratepayers.
The briefing, which also included Property Council representatives, followed the forum’s latest meeting in Tokoroa where mayors and the regional council chairmen received an update on the proposed work streams and the initial level of council interest in funding them.
‘‘MPs and iwi were very interested to hear first-hand what’s being proposed,’’ said forum chairman Hugh Vercoe, the mayor of Matamata-Piako.
‘‘It will be important to have MPs and iwi engaged as we seek to progress regional prosperity through taking a Waikato Inc approach. We will look to keep updating them and others stakeholders as our work progresses.’’
Mr Vercoe said it was also encouraging to hear, either formally or informally, that many councils were looking favourably at providing funding or in-kind services to support the estimated $1.39 million cost of the work programmes.
‘‘We won’t know the final level of support until the councils’ annual plan processes are finished over the next few months.
‘‘But signs are that most councils may be looking to support all or some of their suggested share of the work programme costs. It will be up to individual councils to say where their thinking is on that and announce any funding commitments.’’
It is estimated that in 10 years the work programmes could generate collective savings for councils worth tens of millions of dollars, through greater efficiencies and joint operations. The proposed work streams – covering planning and governance, economic development, water and wastewater, and roading – represented an integrated package designed to deliver solid results, said Mr Vercoe.
A central feature of the proposed work is the creation of a Waikato Plan to develop a shared vision and collective voice on the high priority regional and sub-regional opportunities that can improve the quality of living in Waikato in the next 30 years.
Besides a Waikato Plan, highlights of the work programme include:
Work on a regional economic development strategy with business.
Examination of cost savings and efficiencies for water, wastewater and roading services.
‘‘We’re working well together on getting our ducks in a row and we hope to be in a position to announce more positive developments in the near future,’’ said Mr Vercoe.