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HBRC confirms proposals in its Long Term Plan

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Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has today confirmed a range of proposals outlined in its Long Term Plan, called Facing Our Future 2018-28.

It has spent the last three days hearing verbal submissions and deliberating over 569 submissions received from the public during its Long Term Plan consultation phase.

The Regional Council’s proposals include a strengthened environmental focus, with emphasis on land, water and biodiversity. The plan includes up-scaling and accelerating work in land and water management, with stronger regulation and more incentives for change. It also includes a sustainable homes programme, consolidating Civil Defence funding and a focus on community partnerships to achieve change.

The plan sees an increase in the average rate by around $1 a week per property in the coming year, with a 14.2% increase with a focus on environmental priorities, plus 5.2% dedicated to the regional Civil Defence rate.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chairman Rex Graham says it has been fantastic to have the public so engaged in the consultation process.

“It was great to have the community so interested in our plans for improving Hawke’s Bay’s environment. We have listened and deliberated over all of the submissions and as a result, there have been some changes to our plan. I personally have been challenged on two matters after hearing and reading submissions,” says Mr Graham.

He says the Council is aware the rate increase will be difficult for some and it will be pro-actively communicating payment plan options to the public.

The key proposals approved today are:

Land, Water, Biodiversity
The Council has agreed to borrow up to $35M over the next 10 years, to provide incentives to change in the form of interest free loans for Farm Plans and subsidies for riparian and reforestation. It has also agreed to spend $650,000 over three years to establish and operate a ‘future farming’ initiative to lead on-farm research innovation. It is to fund additional biodiversity and biosecurity initiatives and agreed to a 2.9% increase in rates for 2018-19 to cover increased costs in Regulation (planning, consents, compliance and science).

Sustainable Homes
The Council has agreed to borrow up to $13 million over the next 10 years to provide financial assistance packages to allow 1300 homes in Hawke’s Bay to become more sustainable, such as solar heating. It is asking HBRC staff to work with the region’s other councils to achieve the best outcomes to improve the quality of homes in the region. The scheme will be fully cost recovered so there is no impact on the ratepayer.

Civil Defence
The Council has agreed to take full responsibility for collecting a single regional rate for Civil Defence. In the past, each individual council has rated households for civil defence, along with the regional council. In the future the plan is for households to be rated just once by the Regional Council for all their Civil Defence rates. This will result in an increase in the civil defence rate from HBRC, while local councils will reduce their rating for Civil Defence.

Working with Tāngata Whenua
The Council has agreed to spend an additional $384,000 in year 1 of the Long Term Plan to grow capacity and partnerships for co-governance and co-management with Tāngata Whenua to better meet Council’s obligations.

Hawke’s Bay Tourism
The Council consulted on stepping back funding of Hawke’s Bay Tourism by $1.8 million over the next three years, however after considering all the submissions it has adjusted its decision and will now only reduce funding by $300,000 in year one. Keeping funding at $1.52 million for the first three years of the Long Term Plan. The Council has asked Hawke’s Bay Tourism to investigate other funding avenues, such as a bed tax.

Local Government Funding Agency
The Council has agreed to join the Local Government Funding Agency as an un-rated guarantor. This has no impact on rates or debt but gives the Regional Council access to lower interest rates for borrowing.

The Long Term Plan will be adopted at a Council meeting on 27 June 2018.

24 May 2018

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