Have your say on 'incoming tide of change'

The region faces an ‘incoming tide of far-reaching change’ and the Taranaki Regional Council wants to hear the community’s views to help it decide the best way to meet new challenges.

The Council Chair, David MacLeod, says the TRC must invest more in environmental science to implement the Government’s Essential Freshwater reform package, which is shaping up to be the largest single project in the Council’s history. And more big changes are in the pipeline.

The issues are outlined in the Council’s Consultation Document and Long-Term Plan (LTP) supporting documentation that’s out for public consultation until early April. Details and a submission form can be found at www.trc.govt.nz/LTPconsultation.

“Freshwater has always been a major focus for this Council, and good progress has already been made,” says Mr MacLeod. “But along with the rest of the country, Taranaki is now being called upon to do more and do better. This includes ensuring that this precious resource is managed in an effective and meaningful partnership with Māori."

He says the Government’s ‘Three Waters’ reforms, new legislation to replace the Resource Management Act and an evolving response to climate change will also have a major impact on local government. “The TRC is riding an incoming tide of far-reaching change that’s bringing challenge and excitement on many fronts.”

Other issues highlighted in the draft LTP include the future of the region’s public transport networks and the transition to alternative fuels for buses, the future of the TRC’s outdated office accommodation, participation in a Regional Recovery Plan and a review of the Council’s ownership of Port Taranaki Ltd.

For the financial year starting on 1 July this year, budgets in the draft LTP point to a relatively modest total rates increase of $21 to $29 a year for residential properties worth $500,000, and about $60 a year for farms. Rates for many businesses would be slightly lower than the current year. While the Council must budget for a significant increase in environmental science staff and resourcing, the extra cost will be partially offset by a big reduction in Yarrow Stadium rates thanks to a $20 million ‘shovel-ready’ grant.

Submissions close on 9 April, with the Council to hold a hearing in May for those wishing to present their views in person. “Nothing is finalised yet and we’re urging everyone in Taranaki to think about the issues and let us know what you think,” says Mr MacLeod.

Go to www.trc.govt.nz/LTPconsultation to find out more and make a submission.

The LTP will be finalised and adopted in time for the start of the new financial year on 1 July. The document sets out budgets and works programmes for the next 10 years, with a particular focus on the first three years.

Separately, the Council is also consulting on whether to create a Māori constituency. Submissions close on 19 March. Go to www.trc.govt.nz/haveyoursay