Flood protection feature of annual plan
Spending to improve flood protection in the Waihou and Piako river zones features among the $124 million Waikato Regional Council annual plan budget.
The annual plan, released recently, contains a range of measures to support community safety, including an estimated extra $530,000 for depreciation funding after a recent threeyearly revaluation of council assets.
This primarily relates to the Waihou and Piako rivers, which saw heavy rainfall and flooding earlier this year.
There is also extra spending on the Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, including a new group recovery manager and establishment of a new operations centre.
A total of $500,000 will also be spent on work around the Waipa River catchment over the next year. The work will help protect water quality and will be completed with the Waikato River Authority and the Waikato Regional Council.
Other big ticket items include spending on the first stages of the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora plan change, for the Waikato and Waipa rivers. The budget has $1.68m set aside for information technology and $1.06m for initial implementation costs on the plan.
The council said spreading of the costs of the ongoing plan change over 10 years would help it ease upward pressure on annual rate rises.
Other key projects in the 2017-18 budget included introducing a new freshwater strategy for the region, work on the soon-to-be finalised Waikato Plan for the region and work on formulating the 2018-2028 long term plan for the region.
Regional council deputy chairwoman Tipa Mahuta said the council had been able to keep the rise in rates from current ratepayers at 2.9 per cent for 2017-18.
This followed average rises of 1 per cent over the previous four years, with the higher rate for next year reflecting new cost pressures such as increased depreciation for essential flood protection assets.
‘‘This annual plan shows that, working with others, we have a strong focus on boosting regional performance further whilst continuing to provide services that support communities, business, farming and other sectors.
‘‘We will do this while keeping tight control of costs,’’ said Mahuta.
Healthy Rivers Wai Ora plan change will initially have a focus on the Waikato and Waipa rivers.