MEDIA RELEASE: SWDC adopts Annual Plan 2020/21

1 July 2020

Yesterday, on schedule, Council adopted the Annual Plan for 2020/2021. This included voting on 31 separate resolutions concerning the setting the rates, fees and charges, and allocation of budgets for Council activities next year.

Mayor Alex Beijen and Chief Executive Harry Wilson thanked all those involved in the process, including submitters for their high-quality feedback, staff who had to work to a truncated timeframe due to Covid-19, and councillors for participating in all the hearings and meetings.

The budget for next year includes an additional $2.8 million for water supply and safety. This allows Wellington Water to continue work on the District’s water supply networks, to comply with New Zealand Drinking Water Standards.

Other areas of planned expenditure are aimed at addressing areas of historical under-investment, for example, roading and building the Council’s capability to deliver, which means investing in IT systems, processes, and people, to improve customer service for ratepayers.

It was agreed that staff resources should be allocated to developing both a water conservation action plan and waste minimisation action plan, as well as investigating what Council can do to promote walking and cycling in the District. More details on all these initiatives will be consulted on as part of the Long Term Plan review process.

While the Council voted not to proceed with the proposal to purchase the Greytown Rugby and Bowls Clubs’ land, it did agree that the town needs more sports and recreational greenspace. Consequently, Council asked council staff to see if there are other ways to secure the land, or other suitable land and options, with a view to including it in the Long Term Plan consultation next year.

Primarily in recognition of the benefits of a full-size gym to the health and wellbeing of the District’s youth, Council agreed to a $1-million contribution, subject to further work on the detail and due diligence, to rebuild an extended gym at Kuranui College. Through a collaborative management model with the Ministry of Education/Kuranui College, Council’s contribution will see that the gym will be available to the whole South Wairarapa community.

Responding to community feedback, the trial of extended swimming pool opening hours will continue next summer, allowing people of all ages to swim later into the evening and for longer periods on the weekend.

Council also approved $157,000 for community grants and a further $75,000 for youth grants. Details on how to apply for these funds will be available soon at www.swdc.govt.nz/grants.

To minimise the resulting rates increase this year, due to the economic uncertainty around Covid-19, Council is taking out a low-interest loan. This also spreads the cost of infrastructure upgrades over generations of ratepayers, all of whom stand to benefit from the investment. This considerably lowers the average rates increase for next year to 2.27% with an expected additional increase of 1.5% for each of the following four years. This works out in real terms as an estimated increase of $1.86 per week for the average urban ratepayer next year, $1.77 per week for the average commercial ratepayer, and $0.18 cents per week for the average rural ratepayer.

The agenda for the Council meeting, and the minutes (when they are available), are on the Council website here - https://www.swdc.govt.nz/council-agenda-and-minutes-2020

The final Annual Plan will be made publicly available within the statutory one-month timeframe.

South Wairarapa District Council