A message from Mayor Helen - February 2018

(Posted on: February 7)

One of Council's most key roles is to plan for the future, and our draft Long Term Plan, due out for consultation in April, is one of the most important plans. Both staff and Councillors have worked and debated hard to get it to this draft stage to make sure that today's decisions will make for a great tomorrow. The Long Term Plan covers the period 2018 - 2028, but will be reviewed again in 2021.

This draft Plan outlines the projects and priorities that we believe position the district for a successful future - a connected, vibrant and thriving Manawatu. It is essential that we prioritise, which we have, and we will welcome your feedback. Our highest priorities remain the provision of good quality and sustainable water, wastewater, stormwater and roading services, along with good community facilities and services, and encouraging and supporting economic growth.

Planned growth leads to prosperity and more people to spread the rating burden amongst. Growth requires good infrastructure which costs many millions of dollars. There is no free lunch. We need to balance the levels of services with affordability and competitiveness. There is no point in having the best infrastructure in the country that we can't afford, and that potential residents and businesses reject. We also want to retain the best of what we have today to ensure that our district remains an attractive place to live, work, visit and do business.

Council is in a good position, but has large financial challenges ahead that we need to plan for. Along with the challenges are positive opportunities to make the Manawatu one of the best places to live, farm and be in business. By 2028 our community is likely to be different, with predictions of 3,800 more people, 1,700 more houses, and 2,000 more jobs. Feilding's town centre will likely look quite different as we address the earthquake prone building challenges, and our CBD will likely serve different functions. Residential growth in the wider Pharazyn Street/Roots Street/Reids Line area and industrial growth in the Kawakawa Industrial Park are exciting growth precincts.

One of our challenges is deciding how best to fund substantial investment in a fair and equitable way so that those who benefit from the services pay an appropriate share for these services, while ensuring that Council maintains a manageable level of debt.

The draft Long Term Plan document will provide you with background on the key issues and possible options to address these issues. Council has considered each key issue and each of the possible options and decided on our preferred option. We have based our initial decisions on the evidence available and consideration of our community needs now and in the future. These will be open for your consideration and feedback.

As your Mayor and Councillors, we aim to represent your interests to the best of our ability while planning for a vibrant future for our District. Your feedback will help us make informed decisions. We encourage you to be part of the consultation process in due course and look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards
Helen Worboys