Hawke's Bay ratepayers are being asked to "dig further into your pockets" for a proposed 19 per cent rate rise, as the Hawke's Bay Regional Council steps up its environmental action.
Yesterday the Hawke's Bay Regional Council adopted the consultation document for their Long Term Plan, called "Facing Our Future 2018-28". Public consultation starts tomorrow.Councillors were told this plan signalled a "step-change" in council activity, especially in the areas of land, water and biodiversity.
Council chief executive James Palmer said no stone was left unturned in preparing the "ambitious" yet "realistic" plan, and the council was very conscious of the investment being asked of ratepayers.
There would be those who doubted the need for this investment, or felt the council was moving "too much, too quickly" - but he said it was already evident Hawke's Bay "doesn't have any time to lose" with the region threatened by the effects of climate change.
"We don't have much time … change is upon us now."
The plan includes seven focus areas, and proposes a total rate rise of 19 per cent in the first year, with 13.8 per cent to focus on environmental priorities and 5.2 per cent for civil defence.
This equates to an average rate rise of about $1 a week per property, with increases limited over the other nine years of the plan to an average of 3.76 per cent.
While some councillors called the plan a "watershed" moment, three spoke against it.
Each had a raft of concerns, with the common being the "death by 1000 cuts" proposal to step back Hawke's Bay Tourism funding by $1.8 million over three years, meaning a rates reduction of 1.6 per cent.
Central Hawke's Bay councillor Debbie Hewitt said the paper included "deliberately misleading" items for CHB, while Napier councillor Alan Dick railed against several matters - from tourism funding, the impact on CHB after the failed Ruataniwha water storage scheme (RWSS), and possible effects on Wairoa of any restrictive regulation on oil and gas.
"The risk is rather than this council being an enabling organisation … it becomes a handbrake for Hawke's Bay," Mr Dick said.
He and Ms Hewitt voted against the consultation document, which the council agreed to adopt - subject to any required changes.
The plan proposes the lions share of the year one rate rise, 9.5 per cent, is earmarked for land, water and biodiversity, spent "to help us act more urgently to fix issues in our environment".
It proposes simplifying civil defence funding into one regional rate, 5.2 per cent of the increase. Working more effectively with tangata whenua would account for 2 per cent.
Addressing threats to coastal communities because of climate change and sea rise is behind a 0.9 per cent targeted increase for Napier and Hastings residents.
The remaining two areas, Local Government Funding Agency and Sustainable Homes, have no impact on rates.
The plan also proposed the council borrow more, leveraging on its balance sheet by borrowing more for larger, long-term projects - including new borrowing of $71m over 10 years.
-Consultation starts March 19 and ends April 23.