8 December 2017
Waipa mayor Jim Mylchreest said his Council is building a draft 10-Year plan that is "ambitious but affordable" with a big focus on core infrastructure.
The Council will release the 2018-2028 plan and call for formal public comment in March next year. Mylcheest said it will strongly signal continued investment in "the basics" including $100 million-plus spends on both water and wastewater. A further $138 million will be set aside for stormwater, mainly to cope with growth in Cambridge.
"All up, we're looking at investing around $743 million in capital projects over the coming decade to ensure we're ready for the growth projected for our district and also so we can future-proof the quality of life our communities expect," Mylchreest said.
"Growth is a great challenge to have, when it's managed well. But our job is to ensure we're also investing in community facilities that make Waipa such a great place to live in."
The Council will budget for a number of community projects including $11.8 million on cycleways and walkways and $3.6 million towards a new town centre for Te Awamutu. More than $15 million is likely to be tagged for heritage projects including investment in the Cambridge Town Hall, ongoing financial support for the Cambridge Historical Society and a new discovery centre in Te Awamutu.
Costings for the proposed discovery centre are still being worked through, along with the potential for external funding support. Details are likely to be released before Christmas.
Mylchreest said, based on numbers so far, Waipa District Council was looking at an average annual rates rise over the next 10 years of 1.50 per cent per year. He noted water charges will no longer be included in rates bills from July 2018. Instead, water users connected to the town supply will get a separate water meter bill.
"If we didn't have the separate water meter charge, the average annual rates increase would be about 2.21 per cent so let's be transparent about that," he said.
"I think it's a reasonably modest increase and our focus has been on core infrastructure, not on bells and whistles. But we're also investing in the amenities that people really value about Waipa and that's important."
He said rates make up approximately 55 per cent of Waipa's revenue; the rest comes from fees and charges, development contributions and subsidies from organisations like the NZ Transport Agency.
The investment in capital projects will see Waipa's debt levels necessarily increase, peaking at $194 million in 2024/2025, he said.
"That is still well below our debt limits and compares favourably to other organisations so we are in good financial shape," he said. "Under government guidelines, we could prudently borrow a further $40 million so we have plenty of room to cope with any unforeseen event."
Waipa was likely to propose extending its loans for some of its major capital projects, so the cost is shared over generations and not just carried by existing ratepayers. Council will be asking for feedback from the community on this before any final decision is made.
Consultation on the draft 10-Year Plan will begin in March next year.
For more information, contact: Natalie Palmer, 027 807 3174