Ratepayers face a 6.5 per cent rates rise and the vision of liveable, thriving, and connected communities guiding its decisions after Waikato District Council adopted its 2021-2031 Long-Term Plan.
The council says the 10-year budget and plan balance the needs of a growing district with what people can afford.
The plan includes a confirmed general rate increase based on capital value of 6.5 per cent for the 2021/22 year - down from a proposed 9 per cent - and 3.5 per cent increases in the next two years.
The plan increases investment in roads, drinking water, wastewater treatment and community infrastructure.
Waikato District Council is responsible for $1.7 billion of assets, providing the backbone of its community's services.
The council says it has worked hard to manage increasing infrastructure costs, including its Waikato District/Downers Roading Alliance, which enables repairs, upgrades and safety work to be completed flexibly and quickly on a roading network that includes twice the length of sealed roads of most of its neighbouring councils.
The council has partnered with Watercare Services and iwi to improve the efficiency of drinking, storm water and wastewater services, while meeting the rising standards demanded for consent renewals.
Rising standards and new compliance costs have contributed to significant targeted rate increases for waters in the district's urban areas.
Overall, increased investment through the Long-Term Plan will provide better connection options to water, higher quality treatment of wastewater and a cleaner, greener environment.
To support thriving and liveable communities, the council will continue to invest in the district's vibrant spaces and places, including playgrounds and libraries, walkways and reserves.
This aims to enable a socially cohesive and connected community, and enhanced well-being across the district.
District mayor Allan Sanson said he was proud of the plan and how it will support the growth of the district.
He also acknowledged that council rates - especially targeted rates for people who live in the district's towns - are high by New Zealand standards.
"With the user-pays philosophy of our council, people who have direct access to services pay for them, and those who don't, do not. Unlike some cities and districts with just one or two larger towns, our district has many small towns and a large rural community, so there is a limited number of homes and properties to spread the cost of some services. We might lack the benefits of scale, but we make up for it with our quality of life," he said.
Sanson acknowledged that any rate increases are hard, especially for those on fixed or low incomes. "This has been our most challenging LTP in my time here, and we have done our best to balance the need to keep costs down with the need to ensure the Waikato District is liveable, thriving and connected," he said.