Rates to rise, but waters muddied

Mayor Jim Mylchreest and chief executive Gary Dyet officially sign off Waipā District Council’s 2021-2031 Long-term Plan.

Waipā ratepayers will see a 4.6 per cent increase in their rates when they get their first instalment in the post this month.

Over 10 years, the average rates’ increase will be 2.2 per cent a year to partially fund the $2.2 billion of spending the council has committed to on capital and operating costs.

The rest will come from additional borrowing peaking at $319 million in three years’ time and easing back to $201.9 million in 2021. However, council has some ‘wriggle’ room as it could borrow another $99 million under its quantified limit on debt restrictions.

The district council signed off on Waipā’s Long Term Plan this week and set the rates for the year starting July 1.

But the rate setting came with a warning from Mayor Jim Mylchreest.

To remain on track the council would need the right water infrastructure in place to reduce flooding, provide quality drinking water, have access to wastewater services, provide appropriate roads, walkways and cycleways, plan green spaces and recreation areas for health and social wellbeing and deliver great connections to our neighbouring districts.

Growth is also expected to provide the council with huge challenges.

By 2050, projections are there will be 18,900 more people in the district with the biggest increase in Cambridge where there will be 12,300 more people in the town, taking it up to 30,300 or 41 per cent of Waipā’s population.

That means there will need to be 212 more houses built in Cambridge every year to ensure those moving to the town have a home.

Te Awamutu and Kihikihi will need an additional 100 houses every year for the 3800 extra people expected to move there.

To cater for the new commercial and industrial businesses expected to set up in Waipā, the council has set aside 253 hectares of land in Hautapu.

Talking to the plan at the council meeting, Mylchreest said he had concerns about the government’s Three Waters Reform Programme.

It is a three-year project to reform local government service deliveries of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater.

The government is moving ahead at pace with the water reform, but it was disappointing Waipā was not given information earlier, he said.

The council had signed a memorandum of understanding to engage with the government. The council would be under pressure to consult with the community, said Mylchreest.

Projects such as Memorial Park in Te Awamutu, the Urban Mobility plan, Pirongia – Ngā Roto – Te Awamutu Cycleway connection and improving Lake Te Kō Utu’s health were all given sign off to proceed this week.

Community projects have been seen as the real winners of this Long Term Plan with more budget set aside for big gains.

A total of $120,000 has been allocated in Year One for skate parks across the district. The money will be invested in site identification, feasibility, geotechnical advice and concept design. A total of $1.73 million will then be used for the construction and redevelopment of skate parks in year two.

For Kihikihi, $50,000 will be used in Year Two for a feasibility study to develop a community centre in the heart of the town.

The council will also use $50,000 in Year Three for a feasibility study for a new sports centre at the Kihikihi Domain, and $30,000 will go towards developing an overall plan for the Kihikihi Domain in year three.

A total of $40,000 will be provided for administrative resource for the Kihikihi Domain once an agreed plan is in place, but no earlier than by Year Two. A $1,000 grant will also be paid to the Kihikihi Police House Temple Cottage Trust for each year over the next 10 years.

In Cambridge, $25,000 has been allocated for court renewals at the Cambridge Racquet Club in Year One and $25,000 has also been allocated in Year Two to prepare a Leamington Domain plan.

In addition to this, Council has also committed to $600,000 in capital expenditure in year two for sports field development at John Kerkhoff Park, Vogel Street, Cambridge, and $80,000 in maintenance costs per annum from Year Three.

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