The Wairoa District Council has released its Long Term Plan 2018/2028 for consultation, including 10 main projects it is seeking feedback on. The most significant is the upgrade of its wastewater system.
In the plan the council said this was a key priority, and following earlier discussions with the community it had proposed a $6.5 million preferred option to increase treatment of wastewater before discharging into the Wairoa River, with the added potential to consider discharging to land in the future.
Mayor Craig Little said the community had been leading the way in determining the options, and that he understood the concerns regarding wastewater discharge.
"This option certainly is the most affordable for our ratepayers, but also allows council to address community concerns that have arisen and potentially transition to land discharge.
"It also includes continued efforts to reduce stormwater and groundwater inflow into the wastewater network, through various upgrades and removal of illegal connections."
The existing consent for wastewater discharges was due to expire in 2019 and the other option presented was to spend $3m on modifying the system, with no major changes.
This, however, would mean the council would be unlikely to achieve a consent, that the consenting process would be more expensive, and would not meet the community aspirations to improve the health of the Wairoa River.
Another key proposal was a $1.2m project over two years to pipe 500 metres of open drains and build 1000m of new footpaths, and a further $1m per annum for the first four years of the LTP had been proposed to be spent on bridge re-strengthening.
AFFCO's contribution to the township's water treatment system through the water rate it paid had been reviewed, and the community was being asked how it wanted to fund the difference between the AFFCO rate and the rate other water users were charged in relation to the depreciation costs of the system.
AFFCO would pay a lower portion of these depreciation costs due to its initial $2 million capital contribution to the $3.5 million scheme upgrade in the early 1980s.
The council had suggested that the increased rates of $190,000 in the 2018/19 year and further increases in the future be collected through the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC).
"Council believes that as AFFCO is the biggest employer in the district and many people across our district receive direct benefits from AFFCO that we should fund the difference from the UAGC," the plan said.
Proposals to spruce up the CBD, including changing the landscape and urban design of the area, were projected to cost $1.5 million spread over three years, and were considered necessary to support the town's economy.
Increasing waste and recycling needs in Mahia were also addressed, with a budget of $150,000 to be spent over two years proposed for a new green waste and recycling centre in the coastal community.
If adopted as proposed, ratepayers would be looking at an average rates increase over the first three years of the plan of 5.4 per cent, dropping to 2.5 per cent over the following seven years.
Little said the plan was about investing in the "core business" of council's operations and uplifting the community.
"In order to achieve our community's objectives and vision, and maintain services and infrastructure, we need to focus on these significant projects," he said.
"Infrastructure sets a foundation for building a strong and resilient community, and council will be seeking to invest in infrastructure over the life of this plan.
"These projects will keep our district moving forward and are necessary to continue or improve our services to our people, and ensure regulatory compliance."
Public meetings on the plan were being held in coming weeks before submissions closed on June 26.