After considering more than 430 submissions, feedback on 2263 submission points, and hearing from 46 individuals and organisations, Horizons Regional Council adopted its 2021-31 long-term plan on Tuesday.
Rates for year 1 will increase an average of 8.4 per cent across the region, an average of 8.2 per cent for year 2, and an average of 6.5 per cent for year 3.
The plan will guide the way Horizons manages the region's land, air and water resources.
Horizons chairwoman Rachel Keedwell says the council heard from many passionate community members who shared their feedback on the key issues highlighted in the consultation document.
"These topics included proposals on ways to fund our implementation of central government's policy and regulations reforms for freshwater, a new dedicated climate change activity, improvements to the Capital Connection, and changes to Palmerston North and Whanganui bus services," Keedwell says.
"Following submissions and deliberations, council has identified which work programmes we will continue and which will require increased expenditure.
"This includes additional funding for council's priorities areas of freshwater, climate change and biodiversity, as well as public transport, environmental education and some changes to river management schemes."
There is also a financial commitment to Covid-recovery projects that will progress environmental projects council already had planned or under way. Central government has provided a significant contribution to this work and Horizons has committed a local share of $1.34 million in year 1 of its long-term plan.
"This funding will go towards Mahi mō te Taiao - Jobs for Nature projects to improve water quality and enhance native fish populations, as well as infrastructure climate resilience projects to help manage flood hazards in Foxton, Lower Manawatū, Palmerston North and Rangitīkei," Keedwell says.
The new Kanorau Koiora Taketake - Indigenous Biodiversity Community Grant is a contestable fund of $260,000 to support projects that provide connections between nature and people, and projects that work to restore and protect indigenous biodiversity including those that support regeneration and continuation of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge).
Cr Keedwell says the rate increases are only an average and the rate impact will differ from district to district due to factors such as changes to property values, and specific rating inputs such as river schemes and urban passenger transport rates for certain areas.
"Our average rates increases are some of the largest we have ever proposed and something council hasn't taken lightly."
The final long-term plan, with the full details of Horizons' work programmes, will be made available on its website, horizons.govt.nz, within the next few weeks.
Anyone wanting to check what their next rates invoice will look like can use the rates search tool.