Draft city budget to go out for consultation
Tauranga’s mayor and councillors have voted to consult with the community on an annual plan enabling continuing investment in the fast-growing city, while signalling the need to work with regional and central government on solutions to funding and financing challenges.
At a Tauranga City Council Policy Committee (Annual Plan) meeting on Thursday, the mayor and councillors voted 6-5 for a draft budget that would see $244 million in capital expenditure, with a 12.6 per cent average rates rise.
Businesses will be consulted on paying a higher proportion of this, recognising the need for investment in transportation and other projects supporting the local economy.
If adopted, the plan would see rates for the median residential household rise by about $4 a week.
Mayor Tenby Powell says Tauranga had fallen behind in funding and infrastructure because of an “abject lack of courage” in the past.
A long-term solution was being sought with regional and national partners, but strong leadership and bold decision-making was required now.
“It’s time for us to grow up – and this is our chance to stand up on behalf of current and future residents.
“People want to live here and to bring their businesses here, and come here they will. Tauranga is a magnet city – not a walled medieval town.”
The vote came after the meeting heard that Tauranga faced serious challenges if the average residential rates increase was restricted to the 3.9 per cent councillors had previously asked staff to budget for.
The executive instead recommended that a budget with an average rates rise of between 12.6 per cent and 17.6 per cent be taken to the community for consultation.
Their report says that increasing capital project costs and budgets, weathertightness claims and the deferral of elder housing property sales had affected the council’s ability to budget.
Like other growth councils, Tauranga faced difficulties funding infrastructure to support population and industrial growth.
Collectively, the councils were talking with central government about long-term funding solutions.
The adage that “growth pays for growth” was no longer true, partly because of long pay-back periods. This was backed by an Infrastructure New Zealand report that, nationally, it cost councils $50,000 to pay for the pipes and roads for every new house.
The meeting heard that the lack of housing and infrastructure in Tauranga was already holding back growth.
Public consultation for the draft annual plan is expected to start on March 25.