Central Hawke's Bay District Council is a step closer to finalising its 2019/2020 Annual Plan, with four changes from those originally proposed in its Long Term Plan.
The council received 134 submissions from the public as part of its consultation process on the 2019/2020 draft annual plan and listened to more than 30 people or groups present in person at the Council Submissions Hearing on May 9.
Annual plans are produced in the years between long term plans and give councils an opportunity to review and revise rates, budgets, projects and goals from those originally proposed in the long term plan, which they then consult the public on.
There were four changes from the Long Term Plan 2018-28 that the council sought community feedback and input on.
1) A new Environment and Sustainability Strategy, developed as part of Project Thrive, which highlighted how passionate the Central Hawke's Bay community is about protecting this beautiful part of the country.
2) Changes to the Revenue and Financing Policy to balance the impact that new rating values have on the district.
3) To establish a regional Disaster Relief Trust between the five Hawke's Bay local authorities led by the Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.
4) A proposal to provide a suspensory loan of $250,000 from the Rural Wards Reserve Funds to Water Holdings CHB Ltd to identify water security options for Central Hawke's Bay was rejected. The council received more than 100 submissions in response to this particular issue and after much discussion took a decision to broaden the scope of the original proposal and earmark $250,000 from the Rural Wards Reserve Funds to investigate water security options through a council framework that involves all members of the community. The aim is to provide a platform for not only Water Holdings CHB Ltd, but other key stakeholders such as the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and community groups, to be working together on this issue.
Rates increases were another topic of vigorous discussion at yesterday's meeting, where councillors reluctantly deliberated a rates increase for the coming year, balancing affordability with delivery of aspirations of the community. The increase is expected to be confirmed on June 20 when the 2019/2020 Annual Plan is expected to be adopted.
Mayor Alex Walker said CHB was "grappling with increased pressures on affordability" and was "rigorously looking" for opportunities to lessen the impact of big projects on our community.
"I want to thank everyone who put forward submissions and took part in the 2019/2020 Annual Plan consultation process.
"Every submission received gives us the opportunity to understand more about what's important to our communities so we can make better decisions.
"This is democracy in action and I'm proud to represent Central Hawke's Bay and people who are so passionate about our district."
The 2019/2020 Annual Plan is expected to be adopted on June 20.