Waikato District Council has met its financial targets for the past year, and is focused on managing rapid growth in ways that are socially, environmentally and economically sustainable.
The council has just published its Annual Report and Summary here online after adopting the Annual Report on October 3, shortly before the local body elections.
“We’ve set rates and debt levels that balance affordability with the need to provide for our growing community,” said Mayor Allan Sanson in a statement.
Average rates were “comfortably” within Government affordability measures at $2,596 per rateable property, and average debt per rateable property is $2,012.
“This is 65% below our current debt servicing limit and leaves a generous capacity for funding services and facilities needed to meet future growth,” he said.
A rising number of building consents for new dwellings show Waikato is currently the third-fastest growing district in the country after Selwyn (in Canterbury) and Queenstown, and Sanson said the council was seeking new ways to maintain and build the infrastructure the district needed to support an expected population rise of more than 26% over the next 15 years (from about 69,900 this year to 88,200 in 2031).
He said the council’s new roading alliance with Downer NZ was improving efficiencies and customer responsiveness to meet the district’s roading and footpath maintenance needs, ahead of the development of the new Waikato Expressway that, when completed, would mean nearly 100 kilometres of ex-State Highway would be added to the local roading network.
A draft agreement to form a water and waste-water council-controlled organisation (CCO) with Hamilton City and Waipa District Councils was expected to provide financial savings and other benefits, but needed all three councils to confirm their commitment to it post-election.
Sanson said the council was focussed on managing the district’s growth sustainably.
“We’ve attracted new local businesses and employment to support economically sustainable growth. We’ve introduced new refuse and recycling systems to minimise landfill waste, and we’ve identified significant natural areas and habitats to protect our environment.”
“We’re working hard to ensure we build our communities as our townships grow.”
“We’ve undertaken initiatives to bring people together, from Youth Awards to ‘placemaking’ projects that will help revitalise the public spaces in our towns. We also committed more than $1.2 million in grants to nearly 200 community groups throughout the district to enable our communities to come together to meet some of their own needs.”