Every three years councils set out work programmes and budget priorities in their Long Term Plans (LTP). Then every year they tweak it and ask the folks at home what they think before adopting that year’s official Annual Plan.

Councils have just released their draft Annual Plans and people have until mid-May to get in their submissions.

The bottom line most people await each year is the rates increase. This is signalled in the LTP but only confirmed in the Annual Plans, and it’s the bit that hits the pockets of everyone who pays rates.

This year Hastings District has proposed a rates increase of 2.8%, Napier City 1.2% and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council 4.5%. It’s always seen as a balance between keeping costs down and delivery of services up, and this is the opportunity people have to let councils know if they have that balance right.

The Annual Plan process also gives councils a chance to do a bit of public relations on the projects they are particularly proud of, or want community support for.

HBRC Highlights

With its key responsibility being the environment, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is pushing its water storage project: the Ruataniwha dam and associated Tukituki catchment plan change. HBRC calls this its “key means to improve summer flows and water quality, enhance water security for users and provide for sustainable economic development.”

In terms of air, clean heat is the main focus through the Heat Smart programme, which encourages the installation of clean heat appliances in Napier and Hastings. “We experienced a great result last winter with the Napier ‘airshed’ recording no exceedances of the national air quality standards for the first time,” says HBRC’s Liz Lambert, General Manager (Operations).

Transport across the region also falls under the remit of HBRC. The Annual Plan highlights this in two ways. The urban bus service run by HBRC has increased in popularity with 18% more passenger trips than in the previous year, a satisfying result and something the Council hopes to build on. Cycle trails throughout the Bay are also a win for HBRC, a project that ties in with HDC work along a similar vein.

‘Strategic Alliances’ are also a key feature of the plan for Lambert who says: “Pleasing progress has been made in this area on several fronts.” A Regional Planning Committee, made up of elected councillors and treaty claimant group representatives, is up and running and making policy development decisions, and a working party with the Department of Conservation and two other regional councils is underway. HBRC is also hosting a Massey University business development manager, whose role is to enhance opportunities for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council by providing a portal into Massey research services.

Another area where HBRC is looking at how it delivers its services, rather than the services themselves, is its participation in the Better Administrative Support Systems (BASS) process. This lets HBRC compare its performance and efficiency against six other regional councils and is designed to provide information to improve transparency and scrutiny, and to help identify opportunities for improvement and savings.

In the HBRC plan, some work signalled in the LTP will be put back, or canned completely. A decision on fracking is being delayed while the Council waits for a report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, and a feasibility study on Ngaruroro water storage is being delayed so resources can be committed to the Ruataniwha dam. The Hill Country Afforestation project, which was going to tap into international carbon trading, has been abandoned because of the collapse of the carbon market.

NCC Highlights

Much of the focus of the Napier City Council plan is on public amenities and attractions that will entice visitors and engage locals, supporting the city’s tourism initiatives.

Mayor Barbara Arnott says that the development of Marine Parade is a priority for the city. “Currently the junior cycle track is being constructed and landscaping from that point to the aquarium, with barbeques and seating, will follow this winter.”

In the plan the NCC states it will be working with its local arts community to make use of the old council chambers. If funding is secured the building will become a home for Creative Napier and a venue for exhibitions and community arts programmes. Alongside this, work continues on the Hawke’s Bay Art Gallery and Museum with completion and an opening set for this financial year.

“The plan also outlines the upgrade of Hershell Street, truly making it a cultural precinct,” says Arnott.

A lynchpin for locals and tourists is the long awaited central bus shelter. NCC has committed to this in its draft plan and is approaching commercial bus companies to contribute financially.

“The community has asked loud and clear for a bus park for inter-city travel and the council has responded with funds for this facility close to Clive Square,” says Arnott.

Other ongoing projects due to be completed within this financial year are construction of the city’s waste water plant, additional storm water capacity on Tennyson St – these two projects alone account for about $40 million – upgrading Clive Square community rooms and starting development on the Park Island strategic plan.

HDC Highlights

For Hastings District Council the focus is on the economy – jobs, attracting business – and on facilities and services for the youngest and oldest members of the population. Housing and emergency management are also key features.

HDC cites the squeeze from increased insurance costs as a financial concern, as does NCC, but both councils have managed to put forth a plan full of development and growth in spite of that.

In Hastings there are a number of projects already started that will continue over the next year, and beyond. With so much in the pipelines Hastings will be one to watch in terms of delivery on time and to budget.

The Model Communities walking and cycling project, known locally as iWay, will continue with connectivity improvements planned, as well as further on- and off-road tracks. Public information campaigns will also continue, with much of this financially supported by the New Zealand Transport Authority.

Construction work is planned across the district, from the proposed Te Mata Park Centre in Havelock North and continued development at the Regional Sports Park to building works at Clive Pool to improvements at Flaxmere Park. William Nelson Park is also a major development for this financial year and will include green space, a playground and a skate park.

The Hastings plan also includes two significant environmental issues. One is the proposal to convert gas generated by landfill into energy, with the aim to power homes in the future. The other is the issue of erosion currently threatening the Clifton campground and boat ramp.

You have until 10 May to submit in writing on the Regional Council and Napier plans, and until 13 May on the Hastings plan, and can, if you wish, speak to your submissions in June. The final Annual Plans will be ready in late June.

For more information visit:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council:
www.hbrc.govt.nz

Napier City Council:
www.napier.govt.nz

Hastings District Council:
www.hastingsdc.govt.nz

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