Council tightens its belt as Annual Plan discussions progress

20 Mar 2023, 1:37 PM

Last week Kāpiti Coast District Council elected members took part in a second workshop to discuss the requirements of the Annual Plan 2023/24.

Kāpiti Coast District Mayor Janet Holborow says the Annual Plan process has become an increasingly difficult balancing act over the past couple of years, forcing elected members to make some tough decisions.

“Like every Council in Aotearoa, we’re operating in a vastly different environment to when this budget was first set as part of the Long-term Plan 2021-41,” says Mayor Holborow.

“The effects of inflation, higher interest costs and increased depreciation combined with our rates revenue being lower than what was forecast for this year (year three of our Long-term Plan 2021-41) means we don’t have enough to cover the work we have planned.

“It’s tough times out there but we are proposing to stick to our Long-term Plan as work to make major changes would have needed to have started late last year. Councillors came together early on in the triennium and agreed not to make significant changes. This would have seen staff scrambling to consult when Councillors were requesting forward work programmes and wanted to focus on the long-term thinking required to move this district forward in the most sustainable way possible given the challenges we face.” 

Mayor Holborow says Council is proposing to deliver year three of the Long-term Plan 2021-41 without changes to levels of service or strategic outcomes.

“With that said, Council is tightening its belt. While most of the rates increase is a result of supply constraints, inflation and a competitive employment market putting pressure on our operating expenses, we have been able to reduce budgets in several areas.”

Chief Executive Darren Edwards says Council is very aware of the cost-of-living pressures on households in the district and while recognising an increase in rates is not what our communities want to hear, many of the costs we are facing are unavoidable and outside of our control.

“We are continuing to keep a close eye on our operational expenditure, stripping out any unnecessary costs and making adjustments where we can,” Mr Edwards says.

Mayor Holborow says the Annual Plan 2023/24 is still very much a draft but she is pleased with the progress that has been made.

“It took some thinking outside of the box to reduce the forecast 12.4 percent average rates increase to 8.1 percent, which is slightly higher than the 7.9 percent forecast in year three of the Long-term Plan.

“We've asked staff to continue to find ways to reduce the figure further and help will be available to those who need it via the rates rebates and remissions schemes.”

Mayor Holborow says Council will continue its Annual Plan discussion at a third workshop set down for 30 March 2023 and will keep the community informed of its progress and any final decisions.