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WDC COO Update on LTP (Long Term Plan) for the District

Waikato District Council Plans for 2024/25: An Update from the COO

In a significant announcement from the Waikato District Council (WDC), Chief Operating Officer Tony Whittaker has shared an important update on the council's strategic approach towards the upcoming 2024/25 financial year amidst ongoing financial challenges and legislative changes. The community of Tamahere, along with the broader Waikato district, is part of transformative adjustments in local governance and infrastructure development and your Community Committee believes you need to be made aware of these changes.

Navigating Through Challenges

The Waikato District Council, mirroring the situation of councils nationwide, is grappling with formidable financial hurdles as it drafts its 10-year budget for the Long Term Plan (LTP) 2024-2034. These challenges are largely attributed to inflationary pressures and a significant legislative overhaul instigated by the central government, especially concerning water reform and infrastructure funding adjustments following the recent enactment of the Water Service Act Repeal Bill on February 16, 2024.

This legislative shift paves the way for a two-staged approach to water services reform, with a primary focus on establishing a robust framework and transitional arrangements by mid-2024, followed by a comprehensive long-term replacement regime by mid-2025.

A Strategic Proposal

In light of these developments, the Council proposes an innovative approach: to prepare an enhanced Annual Plan for the 2024/25 financial year. This strategic decision effectively postpones the Long Term Plan by a year, transforming it into a nine-year plan (2025-2034). This adjustment aligns with recent government provisions aimed at granting councils the necessary breathing room to integrate water services back into their LTPs efficiently.

"Our proposal is driven by a need to leverage upcoming QV rating revaluations, secure vital subsidies from Waka Kotahi for our district’s roading program, and comprehensively understand the evolving requirements for water infrastructure amidst changing government policies and the pressing issue of community affordability," says Tony Whittaker .

Implications for Tamahere and Beyond

Opting for an enhanced annual plan will afford the Council additional time to tackle immediate water infrastructure alterations, await definitive funding announcements from Waka Kotahi in September 2024, and, crucially, engage more deeply with community members on the provision of services, activities, projects, and related expenditures during a period marked by rising costs and affordability concerns.

"We are acutely aware of the investment and effort already poured into the LTP process. I assure you, this groundwork is not in vain. It forms the foundation for both the enhanced Annual Plan 2024/25 and the subsequent LTP," adds Tony Whiiaker.

The COO emphasised the Council's commitment to exploring alternative solutions with the central government in the forthcoming financial year to alleviate the financial strain on ratepayers, pending support from the Mayor and Councillors.

Looking Ahead

Acknowledging the persistent financial obstacles, Tony Whittaker adds, "Proposing an enhanced Annual Plan process is our strategic response to ensuring the best possible outcomes for our communities. We value and appreciate your ongoing support and engagement."

As the Council moves forward, updates on the communication toolkit to assist community leaders in addressing constituent inquiries, along with additional media releases post-Council meeting, are anticipated.

Tony Whittaker extends an invitation for further dialogue, "Please feel free to contact me with any queries. We're committed to keeping you informed every step of the way."

The Tamahere community, alongside the wider Waikato district, is encouraged to stay engaged and informed as the WDC navigates these changes with a clear focus on sustainable development and community welfare.