12 March 2013
RDC Chief Executive Peter Guerin's 'Council Talk' column in today's Daily Post.
For Rotorua District Council it’s full speed ahead with a focus on economic growth for our district.
Shortly we’ll launch, for public consultation, the first Annual Plan since we adopted our 2012-2022 Long-term Plan last year. So I thought it might be useful to recap on the council’s priorities for Rotorua over the ten year period.
Much of this Long-term Plan was influenced by the council’s determination to help grow the Rotorua economy. Rotorua is an absolutely amazing place to live, work and play but our economy has not performed as well as other parts of New Zealand.
However we’re convinced Rotorua can do better economically so that incomes increase, employment is boosted and property values rise. We want Rotorua to be attractive to investment as economic growth will mean improved well-being for all of us who live here.
With this in mind the council worked with business leaders and the community to develop a vision for the district – ‘ROTORUA: Living the Dream. World class in every way.’ This was followed by preparation of the ground-breaking Rotorua Sustainable Economic Growth Strategy, again in partnership with our business leaders. And that strategy in turn influenced the shape of the council’s Long-term Plan.
Three key themes overarch the plan - economic prosperity, environmental improvement, and continuous business improvement – with substantially increased funding directed towards economic prosperity. This includes areas like the CBD revitalisation programme and establishing Grow Rotorua Ltd to focus on the priorities identified in the Sustainable Economic Growth Strategy.
The financial strategy of this ten year plan has five key drivers:
Priority focus on economic prosperity and development for first 3 years;
Then return to a balanced approach across all four well-beings (environmental, social, cultural and economic);
Focus on holding rate increases below 3.5% for first 3 years;
Retain, or improve, service levels; and
Hold debt in ten years to well below policy limits.
Next month we release our 2013/14 draft Annual Plan. It will show we are continuing to achieve some of the lowest rate increases in the country, a hallmark of this council with increases of just 1.9%, 1%, 3.2% and 2.9% over the last four years.
While Rotorua’s economy has shown encouraging signs of advancing at a greater rate than many other parts of New Zealand, some sectors are still struggling. So the draft Annual Plan will continue to give priority to economic growth, with our CBD revitalisation strategy a key component of that.
A healthy CBD is vital. It requires creative innovation coupled with support and cooperation from businesses and the wider community. The mayor and councillors are currently considering options for improving on-street parking, increasing foot traffic and delivering services in ways that better support a well performing CBD.
The draft Annual Plan will be available at the beginning of April and I encourage everyone to read at least the summary of this document and to make a submission telling the council what you support or where your views differ.