Horowhenua Chronicle

Have your say on plan for district

Council’s ‘#Future Horowhenua’ on table for discussion

- Paul Williams

Horowhenua District Council is urging the public to have a say on major issues affecting the district. Topping the list is the future of the Levin landfill, Three Waters infrastruc­ture funding, and the fairest method to calculate rates.

A comprehens­ive consultati­on document called #Future Horowhenua got the official sign-off this week and will be floated out for feedback.

Mayor of Horowhenua Bernie Wanden urged the public to read the consultati­on document and make submission­s.

“I see this Long Term Plan Amendment consultati­on document adoption as a curtainrai­ser to what will be an intense few months of community engagement,” he said.

HDC was planning an overall rates increase of

7.8 per cent this year, and was considerin­g a more equitable rating system as some ratepayers could face a greater annual increase than others.

HDC was paying close attention to rates affordabil­ity. Rates were forecast to have a cumulative percentage increase of almost 50 per cent between now and 2028.

Mayor Wanden said it was important that any rating system was fair and equitable across all sectors of the community.

“We know there are significan­t cost of living pressures for many residents, which sees some households spending 8-9 per cent of their income on rates while some pay just 1-2 per cent,” he said. “There are differing reasons for this and it is important we understand the community’s views on whether they think the capital value or land value

rating system is best for our district.”

Residentia­l property values had increased substantia­lly throughout the district and those increases had a bearing on rates calculatio­ns. Commercial and rural property had also risen in value, but not to the same extent.

A report commission­ed in 2007 recommende­d rates shouldn’t be more than 5 per cent of a household’s income. According to the 2018 census, the average income in Horowhenua is 35 per cent lower than the national average, while the average mortgage repayment was 43.9 per cent of annual average income.

HDC also had to make a decision

this year on the future of the Levin landfill on Hokio Beach Rd, with options to close the site completely, keep it open until resource consent expires in 2037, or close the site and explore its potential for alternativ­e use.

The latter was the preferred option, with potential as a processing facility for organic material only, resulting in eventual savings to ratepayers through waste minimisati­on and resource recovery.

Uncertaint­y around future government direction of Three Waters assets meant HDC included funding of future planned projects and upgrades to drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems in its long-term budget.

Significan­t upgrades to those networks were needed to keep up with population growth. Last year HDC agreed to invest $121 million on drinking water, $171 million on wastewater and $29 million in stormwater in the next 20 years, and already increasing costs had already forced a reshuffle of infrastruc­ture projects.

Key projects identified included a raw water reservoir increase storage capacity, improving capacity to filter water at treatment plants, upgrades to wastewater treatment plants, and district-wide stormwater improvemen­ts.

HDC had increased its annual debt limit from 225 to 250 per cent of its annual revenue to ensure funding of key infrastruc­ture upgrades. Should water assets be transferre­d to a new entity under any proposed new restructur­e of Three Waters by government, that limit would reduce back to 225 per cent.

HDC had a busy week getting the consultati­on document signed off amid concerns from Audit New Zealand that planned funding of Three Waters infrastruc­ture made its Long Term Plan “unlawful”.

HDC paused signing off the consultati­on document for a week, allowing for an amendment to legislatio­n passed under urgency in Parliament that meant it could now include funding forecasts as planned.

The inclusion of Three Waters assets beyond 2024 was then met with an adverse, but not unlawful, opinion from Audit New Zealand.

The date for submission­s closes on May 1, followed by hearings on May 10 and 11. HDC is required to have its Annual and Long Term Plans completed by June 28.

 ?? Photo / Nick Simmons ?? Horowhenua District Council is encouragin­g residents to read and respond to a consultati­on document highlighti­ng key issues affecting the district.
Photo / Nick Simmons Horowhenua District Council is encouragin­g residents to read and respond to a consultati­on document highlighti­ng key issues affecting the district.
 ?? ?? Horowhenua Mayor Bernie Wanden
Horowhenua Mayor Bernie Wanden

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