Despite the medium to long-term predictions for economic growth in Taranaki being good, the South Taranaki District Council has taken a conservative approach in the 10-year Long Term Plan it adopted at the end of June.
After months of planning, workshops, public meetings and submissions, the council settled on a rate increase of 4.4 per cent for 2012/2013, down from the original proposed 4.8 per cent, with an average annual total rate increase over the next 10 years (including inflation) to be 4.3 per cent.
South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop said the council had taken a prudent approach in planning for the next 10 years.
"Over the last five years the council has invested heavily in improving the district's water and wastewater infrastructure and community facilities. Because we are now in the enviable position of having completed many of the costly upgrades that many councils are still faced with, the next 10 years will be largely about consolidation and maintenance," Mr Dunlop said.
The global economic downturn and economic uncertainty in Europe influenced its planning.
"As a result of these uncertainties, and in an effort to keep a tight rein on expenditure, we have reduced some previously budgeted expenditure, increased our level of debt repayments, and are trialling new technology at Hawera wastewater treatment ponds, which has the potential to save $3 million," he said.
The council's key focus over the next three years would be to complete the district's water infrastructure upgrade and plan for its future waste disposal needs as the Colson Rd landfill neared the end of its life.
Mr Dunlop said the challenge for any council was to strike the right balance between providing the services and facilities communities expected, while keeping rates at an affordable level.
A copy of the council's 2012 - 2022 Long Term Plan can be viewed at any Council LibraryPlus centre, the Administration Building on Albion St, Hawera, or at www.southtaranaki.com