27 March 2013
RDC chief executive Peter Guerin's Council Talk column in The Daily Post this week.
Next week Rotorua District Council releases its draft Annual Plan for public consultation. The plan defines activities, services and projects the council is proposing for next year (2013/14), along with detailed budgets and funding sources.
Budgets have been prepared in a continuing depressed global economic environment. However despite increases in a number of operational costs outside of the council’s control (eg roading materials, fuel) the council is proposing to hold the increase in the amount of rates to be collected to less than 1 per cent. This is lower than inflation forecast for next year and well below the 3.5 per cent increase signalled in the Long-Term Plan.
It would mean RDC will have achieved one of the country’s lowest overall rates increases for the fifth year in a row – an annual average increase of under 2 per cent over five years.
While this is a very challenging goal, the council believes it can be achieved without cutting services and while continuing to invest significantly in improving the district’s wider economic performance. Line-by-line examination of budgets, reductions in operational costs across-the-board and savings from our organisation-wide ‘Lean Thinking’ programme of continuous business efficiency will all contribute to a very low rates increase.
The 2013/14 draft Annual Plan covers the second year of the 2012-2022 Long-term Plan, and reinforces the Long-term Plan’s three key themes - economic prosperity, environmental improvement and continuous business improvement.
The next phase in revitalising the CBD will be a major priority in 2013/14 in support of our goal to improve local economic performance. Amongst a raft of inner city development initiatives being proposed is a bold new time-based free parking regime with removal of parking meters and pay-and-display units, and the establishment of a new Inner City Enterprises (ICE) unit focussing on enhanced services in the central city.
Funding for tourism marketing programmes, business and investment attraction through Grow Rotorua Ltd, and $1 million for airline joint-venture marketing in Australia to support trans-Tasman services, are among other economic growth initiatives in the draft Annual Plan.
Every business and every resident can influence the direction of the draft Annual Plan by using the submission process to give the mayor and councillors feedback on the plan’s proposals.
Submissions on the draft Annual Plan 2013/14 can be made online at rdc.govt.nz from 3 April until 3 May 2013. Please take the time to have your say.