The Napier City Council will next week start a month-long public consultation on what could become one of the most-discussed plans for the city which in 2024 marks 150 years since its establishment as a borough in 1874.
Proposals in the plan, which is updated during the decade, will result in an average rates increase of 8 per cent for 2021-2022, with further rises each year over the course of the plan to 2031.
Most of the increase is made up of extra costs for water and waste services, general cost increases, and externally driven costs like increasing insurance and government charges.
Mayor Kirsten Wise, who has strongly pushed for the public to have more of a say, says about half of capital projects spend over the next 10 years is for water services.
"We're committed to keeping our rates as affordable as we can, but at the same time we know our community expects us to deliver the essentials well," says Wise, who was elected mayor in 2019.
"We are taking bold but necessary steps. We have already taken a hard look at our spending and projects to decide what is in and what is out.
"Our priority is to deliver the essentials, look after what we've got and invest in our future. It's clear that we have a lot of work ahead of us to bring our water supply system up to standard."
She says it's been "a tough few years" since the council last did the Long Term Plan, with challenges at a local, national and international level.
"Due to this, everyone's priorities may be quite different to what they were three years ago. Ours certainly are.
"It's no secret that like many other cities, Napier is struggling with issues. Historically, we have prioritised keeping our rates low, but it has come at a cost. We are now grappling with ageing infrastructure, outdated systems and increasingly stringent standards."
She says the council is committed to keeping our rates as affordable as it can, but knows its community expects it to "deliver the essentials well".
"We've had to make some tough calls on what can be done. We've moved some projects out a few years to save money, and we're also looking to borrow to catch up on renewals and replacement of our key assets."
She says the council is also very aware of some serious incidents that have played out in the city's public places.
"We know that people are feeling less safe out and about, and has included a focus on community safety as part of the proposed plan."
Other proposals include the development of Ahuriri Regional Park, the development of community facility project Te Pihinga in Maraenui, how council's housing service should be funded, operation of the Faraday Centre, and traffic safety plans.
Already discussed at full-council committee level, the draft is due to be adopted at a council meeting on Thursday. The consultation closes on May 12, after which the council expects to hold submission hearings before finalising the plan.