Residents and Ratepayers’ Feedback on the Draft Annual Plan 2020-21
Press Release: Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers Inc., 9 June 2020
This feedback was synthesized from four rounds of consultations with each of the 13 members of the Committee and 379 members active on email. It recognizes the challenges faced by those who developed the draft Annual Plan 2020-21 in the unique and difficult circumstances created by Covid-19.
Residents and Ratepayers’ feedback can be expressed as 13 recommendations:
- With Vision 2030 being rendered obsolete by Covid-19, that it be replaced by a vision that retains social, environmental, and cultural well-being aims and commits Council to helping people, families and businesses to survive and prosper with essential services and appropriate infrastructure.
- That a more equitable balance be restored between the recognition of the cultural rights of mana whenua and the human rights of all citizens in Council’s investment and resource management decision making, most especially in its governance and commercial partnerships.
- That greater priority be given to essential infrastructure related to the three waters, less to Sports and Recreation, less to legal advice, more to revenue from fees and charges, more to corporate research into productivity, and less to functions that are a central government responsibility, such as housing.
- That the proposed capex budget of $117M for 2020-21 be substantially revised to downscale and delay the Lakefront Redevelopment and the Long Mile Road/ Forest Hub 2 Project, and to refine and accelerate the restoration of the Museum and SHMPAC.
- That the proposed one-off $1M Community Support programme be replaced by an additional $0.5M being allocated to the Community Development Grants scheme.
- That the proposed Economic Recovery Fund of $9M in 2020-21 and $20M in 2021-22 be cut to avoid any duplication of central government packages or competition with entrepreneurialism and innovation in the private sector.
- That three of the ‘Shovel-Ready’ projects (Urban Land Development, Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade, Kaingaroa Village Plan) be implemented if fully funded by the Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIPs) scheme.
- That, if not fully funded by CIPS, then
- the Rotoehu Sewage Connection proposal needs to attract strong local support before any further planning occurs,
- the Aquatic Centre proposal needs to be significantly downscaled to reflect domestic demand,
- the Airport CCO needs a newly authorised strategic development and investment plan to reflect post-Covid market realities,
- the Whaka Forest Hub 2 project requires a new strategic and business plan that does not assume any further public investment, and
- the Lakefront Redevelopment project should be downscaled and rescheduled to significantly reduce the degree of ongoing public investment.
- That the expected reductions in revenue (currently estimated as being between 3.8% and 6.65%) be applied as a benchmark for cost compression to expenditure on asset renewals and improved levels of service and to other opex, including through redundancies.
- That ‘buying local’ be regarded as a relatively short- or medium-term measure.
- That Council accept that it has limited capacity to cushion the blow of Covid-19 and that its proposed Annual Plan 2020-21 is provisional and vulnerable due to its dependency on central government grants yet to be announced.
- That a more prudent approach to rating be adopted by freezing General and Targeted rates at 2019-20 levels to reflect (a) the estimated decrease in the affordability of rates to ratepayers (currently between 7.8% and 9.2%) and (b) Council’s capacity to sustain value for services being reduced due to the estimated reduction in revenues (currently between 3.8% and 6.65%).
- That a more prudent approach to debt management be adopted to raise debt headroom to safer levels, stop using debt for opex, stop borrowing to fund job creation and public relations initiatives, and to only use debt for long-term community capacity-building, especially in essential infrastructure, to deliver all four ‘well-beings’.
We would be pleased to provide the full submission by email and to answer any questions.
Reynold Macpherson, 07 346 8553, 021 725 708, firstname.lastname@example.org