Does our plan strike the balance?

Commission News & Views
with Anne Tolley

Consultation has now opened on Tauranga City Council’s draft 2024-2034 Long-Term Plan, which continues our focus on investing in our future, making things fairer and doing the mahi.  

Long-term plans are refreshed every three years, so they take account of changing priorities – but it’s fair to say our work programme hasn’t changed much since we talked with you in 2021, and in 2022 when the LTP was amended to include the significant Te Manawataki o Te Papa civic precinct projects.

You told us then what was important and you’ll see in this next plan that we’re committed to finishing what we’ve started.

We know times are hard for many people and that we need to keep rates as affordable as possible.

That’s why we want to help reduce the burden on general ratepayers by making sure everyone is paying their fair share towards the cost of running the city.

We’re also working hard to keep rates increases as low as possible by delaying or deferring some projects, while still delivering on the priority projects that will address our key issues and help create a city we can all be proud of.

Industrial category

To make the rating system fairer, we’re proposing to introduce a new industrial category, which would see industry contributing more, and reflect the greater use and impact on our infrastructure – particularly our transport network.

If adopted, this would cut around $100 off next year’s median residential rates increase, and also reduce the rates increase for commercial ratepayers.

Also up for community feedback is a proposal to introduce new fees and charges for using council facilities, like sports fields and boat ramps.

Again, the intent of this is to ensure those benefitting most from our facilities and services contribute more towards their operating costs.

Other key proposals include the possibility of selling our parking buildings to help pay for the city centre development – with a proviso that they’d still be available for public parking – and progressively constructing a community stadium, starting in 2029/2030.

Variable road pricing

And we’re also keen to hear what the community thinks of the SmartTrip variable road pricing concept, which initial studies indicate could significantly reduce our traffic congestion and make it easier to travel around the city, as well as generating funding to accelerate future network improvements.

We’re not looking for a decision at this stage – just an indication of whether we should undertake a business case investigation to confirm SmartTrip’s benefits, noting current legislation does not allow road pricing, so any move to introduce it would be subject to both government intervention to change the law, and a future formal community consultation process to establish whether this is something the community would support.

You’ll find a consultation document setting out all of the LTP proposals on the council website, together with information about how to make a submission.

Submissions close December 15, with hearings and deliberations in February/March 2024, followed by adoption of the amended LTP in April.

So please take this opportunity to tell us whether you think this 10-year plan strikes the right balance and will continue to take Tauranga in the right direction.

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