Councillors to debate 'slender' budget

Timaru's district councillors will debate a "lean" budget today, with roading and sewer upgrades comprising the bulk of the costs.

The draft annual plan for 2014-15 proposes a general rates increase of 3.67 per cent, with targeted rates to increase by 5.17 per cent.

Three days have been allowed to debate the annual plan, which will result in the rates being struck, with the draft calling for an overall collection of $48.923 million.

This includes over $13m of water network asset renewal and upgrades including commencing design work on the Pareora pipeline renewal and Te Moana water capacity upgrades.

The budget proposes over $14m of capital expenditure on the district's transport network, which includes spending $2.5m on widening the Factory Rd bridge.

Timaru mayor Damon Odey said he was looking forward to his first budget in the mayoral seat.

"There's a few big-ticket items, but there's nothing particularly glossy. All of the major items are infrastructure. This is a pretty lean budget, there is little fat on it," Mr Odey said. "The managers have gone through this with a pretty close eye, I don't think there will be much we can shave off."

He said the water network upgrades were a continuation of a lot of the work done in the last five years - including the multi-million dollar upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant at Aorangi Rd, which was due to be complete in May.

"These are all future-proofing projects. They're expensive, but they need to be done to support the district's growth," Mr Odey said.

The councillors will also debate a variety of changes to uniform annual general rates.

According to the proposed budget, the sewer charge increases by $18 to $366 per ratepayer, the urban water charge increases by $12 to $246, an Aquatic Centre charge increases by $1 to $107 and the waste management charge decreases by $15 to $303.

The Timaru Herald