Whanganui's Horizons councillors think ratepayers will be happy with a bigger regional spend on water quality.

But they are not so sure those ratepayers will want to contribute toward maintaining regional facilities such as the Manfeild motorsport, equestrian and agricultural events centre.

Ironically, the first regional facility suggested for funding by Horizons Regional Council is Whanganui's velodrome, which needs to be roofed. Both David Cotton and Nicola Patrick hope it gets a roof - but they don't support Horizons' involvement.

Debate about regional facilities will dilute the council's focus on its main objectives, Ms Patrick said.


Mr Cotton said discussing the matter has already taken lots of time.

"While we are doing that we aren't spending money on old man's beard and the fundamental work the community expect us to do."

The council's 2018-28 Long-Term Plan is up for consultation. If adopted it will mean an average rates rise of 7 per cent across the region. Ms Patrick, on an average Whanganui property, said she would be paying an extra $17.

Mr Cotton has been hearing from people on fixed incomes. For some, 14 per cent of their income is spent on rates.

The councillors hope lots of people will make submissions, both for and against what is in the plan.

One of the top issues could be changing the region's name to Manawatū-Whanganui rather than Manawatu-Wanganui. Ms Patrick is all for that. She said spelling a Maori word incorrectly was disrespectful.

One proposal the councillors think will be popular is an increase in the amount of money available to landowners to improve water quality. It's a well-subscribed fund and Ms Patrick doesn't think the increase will meet demand.

Other new spending is proposed, to check and maintain the quality of the drinking water supplied by local councils.

Horizons proposes bumping up the funding for its Sustainable Land Use Initiative, to replace money central government has removed. The initiative's tree planting will improve water quality, and Mr Cotton hopes to leverage more funding for it in the new government's drive to plant a billion trees.

Ms Patrick is pleased extra bus services are proposed for Whanganui at weekends and public holidays - and hopes people will use them.

The council proposes to continue spending $230,000 a year on boosting regional economic development, through the Accelerate25 programme. It wants feedback on that money coming from rates rather than reserves.

There are lots of other issues to submit on. One is loan funding for a new council investment - a Palmerston North office building. Another is continuing possum control now that central government is reducing its input.

For Whanganui and Ruapehu people there are changes to river and drainage schemes proposed. Mr Cotton said the changes had been discussed for two years, and it was time to make a decision.

The proposed plan is available online at haveyoursay.horizons.govt.nz, and on paper at Horizons service centres. Submission forms are online and will soon be delivered to region letterboxes.