Decision day on long-term plan
It gets decided today.MATT RILKOFF
It gets decided today.
After months of debate, submissions and even protest, New Plymouth Mayor Harry Duynhoven and his 14 councillors will finalise the contents of the district's 2012-2022 long-term plan today.
Their most anticipated decision will be around the proposed $28 million TSB Stadium and Pukekura Raceway multisport development which has become the rallying point for two opposing philosophies.
Its backers say the multisport development is necessary for the district to maintain its vibrancy and attractiveness as a place to live.
Those against see it as an example of the council lumping more burden on ratepayers struggling to pay their property taxes.
Their vehement opposition has already resulted in the council recommending construction be put back to 2016 but that middle ground might not be enough to please the 5700 who signed Len Houwers' petition to cap rates increases at 3 per cent.
As the plan stands now, there is no hope of that happening, with rates increases averaging 5.5 per cent for its 10-year life.
But even that "average" will not be achieved in the next three years with the council's own numbers estimating an average annual residential rates increase of between 7 and 7.8 per cent until 2015, when the plan is first up for review.
With councillors under intense pressure to make sure these increases are reduced, how they do that could define their political legacy.
An easy option would be to keep taking $20m a year from the $250m Perpetual Investment Fund as they have been doing for the past eight.
However, Mr Duynhoven has made a point of his desire to rebuild the fund so future generations can benefit.
Another option is to consider Grey Power's request and undertake an independent look at staffing levels, which essentially boils down to a level of service review.
With nearly $30m paid out in salaries to more than 500 staff each year, such a review could quickly result in savings.
However, ratepayers could find it an expensive way to find out things they don't want to hear.
In 2010 the council spent $180,000 on such a review with most of the money-saving suggestions rejected.
These included selling pensioner housing, changing library hours and reducing maintenance at Pukekura Park.
After today's meeting, council officers will have 20 days to make any required changes before the long-term plan is adopted on June 26.
Starting at 9am, today's meeting can be viewed live online at newplymouthnz.com/meetingvideo.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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