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Cuts and delays to services proposed in TDC's long term plan

January 29th, 2012

Money-saving cuts in services and delays in new projects are proposed in the new draft of Tasman District Council's Long Term Plan, which is being released for consultation from late February.

Aiming to reduce future rates increases, among the 90 affected infrastructure projects are Motueka's planned $12 million water supply, the council's $1.5m contribution to a regional bus service, and a shared-use path on Kaiteriteri's Martin Farm Road, according to a report in the Nelson Mail.

In the proposals, the $11.6m refurbishment of the lower Motueka River's stopbanks has been pushed out to 13 years to make it more affordable to affected ratepayers, with work planned to start in 2017-18. That date would also see the start of design work for the planned $26m coastal Tasman pipeline to give staff time to consider the project in relation to the Lee Valley Dam.

The council's $4.25m share of Motueka's planned swimming pool has been cut from the 10-year plan, and the redevelopment of the town library is also on the money-saving list, despite much time and money having been spent to date on planning both of these projects.

Cuts are proposed in the parks and reserves budget, and 15 roading projects could be deleted from the council's 20-year asset management plan. The changes would see the council delay work to cycle and footpaths, streetscaping and rural road upgrades, and spend less on mowing, road metalling, and minor improvements and transport studies.

Council's transportation manager Gary Clark predicted the council would field increased calls about long roadside grass and more potholes when the reduced funding kicked in.

Mayor Richard Kempthorne told the Nelson Mail criticism this week by Local Government Minister Nick Smith of "unsustainable" council rate and debt increases was at odds with the reality councils faced when trying to meet the Government's legislated demands for improved services, such as new drinking water standards. Meeting such Government demands while trying to keep down rates was a balancing act, he said.

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Funding for community boards
Meanwhile, Motueka and Golden Bay ratepayers will continue to fund their community boards through targeted rates, but the council's controversial move to charge for staff time has been dropped. The proposal was discussed and adopted last week by the full council.

It would see Motueka ratepayers charged $10.73 (plus GST) to help fund their board and Golden Bay property owners $13.24. Last year they paid $12.57 and $14.51 respectively.

Motueka Community Board chairman David Ogilvie welcomed the change. While he said the communities should not be paying any extra charges for their boards, he said it was a case of taking one step at a time. The charge for council staff time had been controversial since it was introduced in 2008, he told the Nelson Mail.

"Say we ask for a report on a footpath or road, we get charged for council staff time but somebody can ask for a similar report in Waimea or Brightwater and not be charged."

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