Waipa District Council has indicated it will spend $973 million over the next 10 years to cope with current and projected growth in the district.
Spending proposals for the coming decade are outlined in the Council’s draft 10-Year Plan. While some plans have already been floated in the community, the big picture will be finalised and released for public comment in March.
Council’s big-ticket items for the next decade include major updgrades to the district’s water infrastructure ($200 million), roads and footpaths ($159 million) and community services and facilities ($41 million).
Some money has been allowed for community projects including upgrading the Cambridge swimming pool ($6 - $8 million), a new museum for Te Awamutu ($6 million), a cycleway/walkway from Te Awamutu to Kihikihi ($1.2 million) and the development of Waipuke Park at Lake Karapiro ($417,000).
Both the Cambridge pool and Te Awamutu museum projects would not proceed without significant community fundraising.
Mayor Jim Mylchreest said the council had prioritised core services but said community projects were still important.
“Waipa is growing at a tremendous rate and looks set to continue doing so for a while. It’s facilities like parks and cycleways which make our district such a great place to live and make Waipa properties increasingly valuable,” he said.
“We’ve already had a resounding message from our community that while core services must be our top priority we can’t forget about community facilities either.”
He noted that some projects had not “made the cut” including sealing the district’s remaining rural roads or further contributing to the Te Awa river ride.
“That’s not to say we’ve given up on them because we haven’t. We’ll continue looking for different ways to fund projects that will benefit the district.”
“The proposals are still up for public discussion so nothing has been finalised yet. If the community doesn’t agree with us we need to hear about it.”
Between 35- 45 per cent of the planned $973 million expenditure will come from government subsidies, fees and charges, grants and contributions from developers, leaving ratepayers to contribute around $576 million over 10 years.
Based on its proposals, Waipa ratepayers face an average rates increase over 10 years of 2.8 per cent for existing ratepayers. Rates for each property will increase depending on the value of the property and the services that property receives.
Waipa’s traditionally low debt levels will also increase to help fund the proposals. At the end of June this year, Waipa’s debt will be $24 million. Based on the draft proposals, this will rise over the first six years of the 10-Year Plan, peaking at $93 milion in 2021/22. By 2025, debt will have reduced to $72 million.
“These are big numbers and we have looked at them very, very carefully to make sure that rates will be affordable and that the cost of debt is spread over a number of years rather than just being carried by those who currently live in the district,” Mylchreest said.
“The forecast debt is well within appropriate debt levels and remains much lower than many other councils around New Zealand that aren’t facing the kind of growth we are planning for.”
The draft 10-Year Plan will be released for public comment in March and will not be finalised until June this year.