After receiving feedback from over 36 residents, ratepayers, territorial authorities and community groups, Horizons Regional councillors have adopted their 2020-21 Annual Plan.
The Annual Plan outlines the work Horizons will do in the year ahead to manage the region's land, air and water resources and what it will cost.
Horizons Regional Council chairwoman Rachel Keedwell said the council's initial Annual Plan proposed an average rate increase of 5.95 per cent. However, due to the Covid-19 response, the council revised the plan to take into consideration potential post-pandemic social and economic impact to the Manawatū-Whanganui Region.
"The revised plan went out to the community for feedback on a proposed 1 per cent average rate increase earlier this month. This feedback was presented to councillors before today's meeting," said Keedwell.
"There has been much discussion around whether we should have an increase at all, particularly as households and businesses review their budgets under the current climate.
"Horizons has done the same through extending loans, using rate reserves, and revising its capital expenditure.
"Council today resolved to adopt the 1 per cent average rate increase, which is made up of amplified insurance costs, passenger transport and total mobility inflation costs, as well as lower than expected income from interest returns.
"While the average rate increase across the region is 1 per cent, this will vary depending on where people live and the level of service they receive.
"It is important to note that each district has a different set of valuations on which your rates are calculated and the timing of this differs across the region. This means that many ratepayers in Whanganui, Horowhenua and Manawatū will have an increase larger than 1 per cent because of the recent revaluations carried out in these districts.
"In comparison, other ratepayers around the region are likely to have a rates decrease.
"I'd like to thank those community members who took the time to consider council's direction and share their thoughts through the shortened process. The feedback received will also help inform our Long-term Plan discussions."
At this week's regional council meeting, councillors also agreed to use $19,800 of the Manawatū transport rates reserve to fund Feilding bus service enhancements and the Feilding to Palmerston North commuter service. These enhancements were initially proposed for inclusion in the Annual Plan at a cost of approximately $33,000, which included infrastructure such as new bus stops.
"For now, we will continue to deliver our current levels of service with a focus on biodiversity, improving water quality, responding to a changing climate, promoting sustainable land management practices, and creating employment opportunities that enhance social and economic wellbeing."
The Annual Plan will be available at Horizons' offices and online at www.horizons.govt.nz by June 26, 2020.