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Local Government

TCDC clarifies Long Term Plan inaccuracies

The opinion article by Flemming Rasmussen published in the 6 February edition of The Coromandel Informer (“Money does not grow on trees – from a concerned resident and ratepayer”), contains a number of inaccurate statements about the process for developing our Council’s 2024-2034 Long Term Plan (LTP), including the upcoming public consultation process to gather feedback.
 |  Donna Holland  | 
TCDC Long Term Plan

Here are the facts about the LTP:

1. The early, informal engagement on our proposals for the LTP that’s occurred to date is not part of the public consultation process Council is required to undertake under the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA) before it adopts its LTP.

It is additional to this process and has involved not only the informal October 2023 drop-in sessions mentioned in the opinion article, but meetings our Councillors, Community Board members and staff have been holding with iwi representatives and other partners, as well as informal conversations with stakeholders and interest groups.

We held the October drop-in sessions and other informal discussions because we wanted to hear about our communities’ priorities early, before we drafted our budgets and work programmes for the next 10 years and in advance of the legally required public consultation process on our proposals.

2. Formal, public consultation on our proposals for our 2024-2034 LTP has not yet started. It will follow the prescribed process set out in several sections of the LGA.

Section 93 requires us to use the special consultative procedure set out in section 83. The procedure, along with sections 93A -93G require us to prepare an easily understandable consultation document that includes specific information.

As required by the legislation, we will make the consultation document and supporting information publicly available for a month and give people opportunities to provide feedback on our proposals and to present their views to the Council.

3. We are scheduled to start the required public consultation process in March. At that time, we will publish our consultation document and supporting information for public feedback over a one-month period.

People will then be able to present their views to elected members at public hearings scheduled for late April/early May.

Our Council will then consider the public feedback and make its decisions on the LTP, which is to be adopted by 30 June 2024. Before it is adopted, an independent auditor (Audit New Zealand), will audit the LTP to ensure it complies with accounting standards, provides a reasonable basis for long-term, integrated decision making and coordination of Council’s resources, and accountability of the Council to the community.

4. We are not developing our draft budgets and work programmes on a premise that rates and fees must increase.

However, having considered the early feedback from our communities about their priorities, as well as the costs associated with recent inflation, higher compliance standards and the necessity of repairing storm damage, we don’t see any other reasonable option but to increase rates and fees if we are to maintain our current services.

We could ask our community what services they think we could stop or reduce in order to achieve lower rates but given that so much of what we do now is required by law, there is little scope for major reductions in our current services.

5. The best source for information about our proposed LTP (and how to provide feedback) will be our consultation document and supporting documents, which will be available once the consultation starts (expected 8 March – 8 April).

These will be available on our Council’s website at www.tcdc.govt.nz/LTP-2024-2034 or drop into one of our service centres for a hard copy from 8 March.

Donna is Thames-Coromandel District Council Corporate Services and Finance Group Manager.