Council adopts Long Term Plan 2021-31

Published on 29 June 2021

Far North landscape

The way Far North District Council calculates General Rates will not change in so far as it will continue to be based on land value. That was one of the decisions the Mayor and Councillors confirmed last Thursday at a Council meeting to adopt the Long Term Plan 2021-31.

Changing the District’s rating system was one of three key issues the Council asked the public for feedback on in March. The Council also asked for feedback on options to improve its Housing for the Elderly service, and whether it should become a shareholder of the region’s economic development agency Northland Inc and invest in the Investment Growth Reserve Fund.

Far North Mayor John Carter says the Council received 740 submissions in response to its Navigating Our Course public consultation and 100 people presented their views in person to Councillors and staff.

He says all feedback was considered during deliberations, including on issues not proposed by the Council. One example was a decision to allocate $100,000 towards a replacement swing bridge at Broadwood in the north Hokianga. “We have heard you, and we have tried to accommodate those issues you are truly passionate about.”

Other critical commitments include devoting $100 million over the next 10 years to improve Far North water supplies to better cope with future drought events and developing land-based disposal options for wastewater.

Mayor Carter says these new commitments have increased Council outgoings, requiring a 6.74% increase in rates revenue in the first year. This is 1.2% higher than initially proposed. “That increase represents the total rates take. Rate increases for individual property owners will vary and some may be less than 6.74%,” he says.

Among the most contested issues were proposals to change the rating system to reduce its complexity and make rates fairer. This included basing rates on capital value instead of land value. Another proposal was to absorb Uniform Annual General Charges into the General Rate.

Mayor Carter says that, overall, the community did not support these proposals. “We recognised this and have opted not to significantly change our rating system.”

He says the Council will continue to investigate ways to make the rating system fairer, but major decisions will now wait until more is known about a Government inquiry into the future of local government funding, changes to the Resource Management Act and proposed national reforms to drinking water, stormwater and wastewater.

Other key Long Term Plan decisions include:

  • Starting a process to identify suitable organisations to take over operation of the district’s 147 Housing for the Elderly units. Councillors specified this should only occur if existing tenant arrangements are protected and service provision and the number of units are maintained or increased.
  • The purchase of a 33% share in Northland Inc to help stimulate sustainable economic development. This investment will ensure the needs of the district, Māori economic development and community wellbeing, as well as economic benefits, are an integral part of Northland Inc’s work programme. The purchase will only go ahead if Kaipara District Council also invests in Northland Inc.
  • Backing a recent decision to establish Māori wards in the Far North and to enable Māori participation in Council decision-making, the Council has allocated $50,000 during year one of the Long Term Plan to fund Māori participation in Council committees and Community Boards.

More information on the Long Term Plan 2021-31 can be found on the Council’s website