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CHB Mail - 2021-07-22

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Council facing facts

NEWS

Thanks for the further correspondence from Mr Wilson regarding the financial situation of our council. I would point out that many of the points he makes are exactly why we have spent nearly 12 months engaging in a piece of work we called Facing the Facts as we built up to the development of the Long Term Plan 2021-2031. We met with many people, provided significant amounts of information and collected large numbers of submissions from our community. We are facing huge challenges. I will pick up on three points: First, when councils are dealing with increasing compliance requirements and catch-ups from underinvestment, the rate of household inflation is an unrealistic comparison for increases to council costs. Sad but true. Second, compounding rates increases Mr Wilson refers to differ between urban and rural, depending on whether households are connected to Three Waters infrastructure. Rural rates are not set to double over the next 10 years. Thirdly, and perhaps this is the nub of the issue, he says we are paying more rates without seeing more services. He is right, because many of our costs are driven by the unseen — government regulation, compliance requirements, historic underinvestment and below-ground infrastructure. The irony is not lost on me. If we spend on things people want to have (and can see), we get criticised for “vanity” spend by politicians; if we spend on “must-have” infrastructure people can’t see, there is criticism for “inflated” rates increases. My door is always open for those who would like to come and discuss these challenges and provide ideas for further solutions. I am focussed on honest, transparent and future focussed investment for our mokopuna and beyond, so welcome any constructive input. (Abridged) Mayor Alex Walker

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