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Council adopts draft long-term plan

Council adopts draft long-term plan

An average annual rate rise of 6.47% over the next 10 years is on the cards for Ashburton District ratepayers.

The draft long-term plan was adopted by the Ashburton District Council this week, with a proposed 9.9% average rates increase for 2024-25.

The council plans to invest $1.07 billion into running the district over the next 10 years and pay off $152m of debt – including around $13m in the first year.

The 36-page consultation document adopted on Wednesday will open for public feedback from March 27.

Mayor Neil Brown said the plan is just a draft and the council is eager to get the community view on if they have the balance right and what changes need to be made.

“We are spending a lot more money on roads and water but what we are getting caught up on is the three Is – inflation, interest and insurance.

“While many other places in the country are a lot higher than [9.9%], we know it's still a large increase at a time when many will be feeling the pinch, but it is what is necessary to maintain services and facilities that the community expects.”

Accounting for around 4.2% of the overall proposed rate rise in 2024/25 is the proposing substantial increase to the roading budget.

Over the next three years, the council plans to spend $32m, an increase of 24%, to offset the rising costs to carry out routine maintenance and necessary upgrades.

There is also significant spend in on three waters - with $10.9m on UV treatment next year, and around $61.5m on water and waste renewals over the 10-year period.

The five major talking points are the introduction of kerbside green waste collection in 2026, $3m pool project, the future of Balmoral Hall and old Polytech land, the council getting out of providing stockwater, and the future extension of the EA Networks Centre stadium.

The stadium extension dove tails into another aspect of the consultation, the 30-year masterplan for the EA Networks Centre that provides a blueprint for the future development of the site.

As well as the plan there is a number of the supporting information being consulted on - the EA Networks masterplan included.

There is also the draft financial strategy 2024-34, draft infrastructure strategy 2024-54, proposed fees 2024/25 and other polices relevant to the long-term plan.

By Jonathan Leask