Taranaki Regional Council has adopted its Annual Plan for the year ahead, building on the ongoing work to care for the region’s environment and working together with communities to take Taranaki forward.
The 2023/2024 Annual Plan, which has no new work programmes to those set out in the 2021/2031 Long-Term Plan (LTP), is gearing the Council up to face the many challenges ahead including changing regulations around freshwater, Resource Management Act (RMA) reform, mitigating against climate change and dealing with high inflationary pressures.
To meet these challenges, the Plan includes additional investment and spending will rise to $53.8m (compared to $45m for 2023/2024 in the LTP). General rates will increase by $1.77m (15%) for 2023/2024 – an extra $30 per year for most residential ratepayers. The LTP had forecast a $0.58m (5%) rise for 2023/2024. The Dividend Equalisation Reserve, grown through the Council’s long-standing ownership of Port Taranaki Ltd, contributed $1m to offset the rise in general rates.
Council Chair Charlotte Littlewood acknowledged that while many members of the community were under pressure because of the high cost of living, the Council had to look to the long-term and ensure it had the resources in place to continue delivering the best outcomes for the Taranaki region.
“There is a huge amount of change happening now and coming up over the next couple of years and this means we have to be prepared,” says Mrs Littlewood.
“As well as implementing the Government’s Essential Freshwater reforms, we’re ensuring we’re ready for the significant RMA changes, continuing to adapt to climate change and have the resources in place when we create the new Natural Resources Plan for Taranaki next year. Add to this the continuing effects of Covid-19 on the global and national economy and high inflation and we’ve had to adjust our spending.
“We will always strive to deliver value for money for our ratepayers and while there will be a rise that’s more than we had forecast in the Long-Term Plan, it’s worth remembering the general rates bill from the Council is still one of the lowest in the country for a regional council.”
Specific additions in the Plan include more staff in the science and land management areas and extra resources to develop the Natural Resources Plan. The Council will also invest further in public transport to meet the rising demand from the community. This will be funded by an increase in targeted rates as well as funding from Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency and fare revenue.
“We know from our recent transport engagement that there is strong support for public transport and the Annual Plan addresses the increased demand for more bus services across Taranaki,” says Mrs Littlewood.
The 2023/2024 Annual Plan takes effect from 1 July 2023.
Fast facts: The TRC’s work streams:
- protecting rivers, lakes and water from pollution
- managing the wise and productive use of water and soil
- protecting air quality
- managing coastal resources wisely
- biosecurity, including controlling animal and plant pests
- providing flood protection
- protecting and restoring biodiversity
- promoting efficient and safe transport networks
- providing public transport services, especially for transport disadvantaged people
- ensuring emergency and Civil Defence systems are well prepared for and respond effectively in times of need
- managing regional gardens (Pukeiti, Tūpare and Hollard Gardens) and supporting the protection of heritage
- ensuring the ongoing development and maintenance of Yarrow Stadium
- owning and ensuring good governance of Port Taranaki Ltd.