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Long Term Plan preliminary decisions

Council met on 22 May to consider community feedback on the topics we consulted on for the 2024-2034 Long Term Plan. The Long Term Plan sets out our focus for the next 10 years, with a review carried out every three years. While the preliminary decisions made during deliberations can provide a strong indicator of what Council’s final decisions will be, the final decisions and formal adoption of the Long Term Plan will take place on 3 July 2024.

The meeting minutes outline Council's resolutions, including the reasoning for the preliminary decisions. Or you can view the recording of the Council meeting.

What we're reducing

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Te Aroha Spa

What we proposed

We proposed to continue to explore options to help Te Aroha capitalise on its rich spa history and thrive as a tourist destination.

The draft budget included $200,000 for scoping and planning works in 2025/26 and $5m for capital in 2026/27 to develop on or refurbish the spa, or make other improvements.

What you told us
  • 31 (52%) agreed with the proposed option to continue to explore options to help Te Aroha capitalise on its rich spa history and thrive as a tourist destination
  • 26 (43%) preferred the alternative option to stop work on it all together
  • 3 submitters (5%) did not have an opinion on the topic or did not select a preferred option.
What was agreed

After significant debate, Council voted to keep this funding in the Long Term Plan and proceed with further investigations into developing the spa, committing $200,000 for scoping and planning works in 2025/26 and up to $5m for capital in 2026/27 to develop on or refurbish the spa, or make other improvements. Council also noted that this project should be cost neutral, i.e. any future increases in operating costs should be covered through future increases in income from the spa.

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Roading renewals

What we proposed

We proposed to spread out our road pavement renewal programme over a longer period. We would closely monitor the quality of the road network, and prioritise work to try and keep the roads to the current standard.

This still requires $5.7 million for pavement renewals in 2024/25 - almost a $600,000 increase on the current year, but would result in less work due to the significant cost increases in this area.

What you told us

Feedback was fairly evenly split on this topic, with

  •  20 submitters (44%) agreeing with the proposed option to reduce our roading renewal programme to cut costs,
  • 22 (49%) preferring the alternative option to keep roading renewals at the current level
  • 3 submitters (7%) did not have an opinion on the topic or did not select a preferred option.
What was agreed

Council felt that spreading out the road pavement renewal programme to keep costs low is the most appropriate option in the current economic environment. However, since going out for consultation, central government has re-prioritised its roading investment. To support additional road pavement renewals we will maximise the central government funding by redirecting funding from walking, cycling and speed management to road pavement renewals.

Councillors noted the need to continually monitor the road quality, and review this decision when setting future annual budgets

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Walking and cycling

What we proposed

We proposed that to keep costs down, we stop budgeting for new walking and cycling connections, and safety improvements for walking and cycling.

What you told us

In total 56 submissions were received on this topic. Of these:

  • 17 (30%) agreed with the proposed option to stop budgeting for new walking and cycling connections, and safety improvements for walking and cycling to keep costs down
  • 32 (57%) preferred the alternative option to continue to steadily improve walking and cycling connections by spreading the projects over a longer period.
  • 7 submitters (13%) did not have an opinion on the topic or did not select a preferred option.
What was agreed

At the same time as Council was consulting on the Long Term Plan, central government released their draft Policy Statement on land transport (GPS). This GPS puts a strong focus on maintenance and resilience of road networks, safety and value for money, where the previous one focused on safety, better travel options, climate change, and freight connections.

The GPS 2024 is very specific that any investment in walking and cycling should only take place where there is clear benefit for increasing economic growth, or where there is clear benefit for improving safety, and demonstrated volumes of pedestrians and cyclists already exist.

Based on this, Council feels that this cost cutting measure aligns with the transport priorities outlined by central government.

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Town centre infrastructure upgrades

What we proposed

We proposed to prioritise maintaining and renewing the existing infrastructure over doing any major upgrades.

What you told us

We received 49 submissions on this topic:

  • 28 (57%) agreed with the proposal to prioritise maintaining and renewing the existing infrastructure over doing any major upgrades
  • 16 (33%) preferred the alternative option to stick to the plan and keep capital funding in the LTP
  • 5 submitters (10%) did not have an opinion on the topic or did not select a preferred option.
What was agreed

Council agreed to proceed with the proposed option of prioritising maintaining and renewing the existing infrastructure. They noted the importance of keeping our towns fresh and tidy to support economic growth – and that the maintenance and renewal budgets do provide for this.

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Additional playgrounds

What we proposed

Our previous Long Term Plan had included significant investments in play – including significant new/upgraded playground in all three towns, as well as new neighbourhood playgrounds to support growth and playground improvements (on top of maintenance and renewals of existing playgrounds).

To keep costs down, we revised this proposal to limit new playgrounds to the planned playgrounds in Matamata and Te Aroha (one per town).

What you told us

Feedback on this topic was relatively evenly split. There were 49 submissions with:

  • 25 (51%) agreeing with the proposed option to limit new playgrounds to the already planned playgrounds in Matamata and Te Aroha
  • 18 (37%) preferred the alternative option to defer the Te Aroha playground until the next Long Term Plan
  • 6 submitters (12%) did not have an opinion on the topic or did not select a preferred option.
What was agreed

Council agreed to proceed with the proposed option of limiting new playgrounds to the planned playgrounds in Te Aroha and Matamata – committing up to $1.5m to each playground. 

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Stage for Matamata-Piako Civic and Memorial Centre

What we proposed

We proposed that to keep costs down, we remove this project from our work programme and maintain the level of service we currently provide. 

What you told us

We received 37 submissions on this topic:

  • 23 (62%) agreed with the proposed option to remove this project from our work programme to keep costs down
  • 12 (32%) preferred the option of keeping the project in the work programme, but deferring it a few years (to 2029/30)
  • 2 submitters (6%) did not have an opinion on the topic or did not select a preferred option.
What was agreed

Council has agreed to proceed with the proposed option of removing this project from the work programme. Councillors did note that the civic centre could benefit from additional moveable/modular staging, and directed staff to investigate this further.

What we're keeping the same

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The services we provide

What we proposed

We proposed to continue to provide all our current services to the current standards (unless otherwise identified).

We’ve repeatedly trimmed and cut our operational budgets over recent years - to the point where we can’t cut more without actually cutting some of our services. We’d need to make some significant cuts to actually make a dent in this rates increase, and we would prefer not to do this, as we believe the services we choose to deliver (like pools, parks and libraries) are the services that make a huge difference to wellbeing in our community.

What you told us

We received 43 submissions received on this topic:

  • 27 (63%) agreed with the proposed option to continue to provide all the current services, to mostly the same standard,
  • 9 (21%) agreed with the alternative option to make cuts to some services - noting that this would need to be significant to impact the proposed rates increase.
  • 7 submitters (16%) did not have an opinion on the topic or did not select a preferred option.
What was agreed

Council agreed to proceed with the proposed option of continuing to deliver the current services, to mostly the same standard.

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Te Aroha Library

What we proposed

The Te Aroha Library is a beautiful historic building – but it also requires earthquake strengthening, and doesn’t meet some of the practical needs of a modern library. So we proposed to include $4.7 million between 2026-2028 to investigate and deliver a suitable building to ensure Te Aroha continues to have library services for years to come.

What you told us

There were 52 submissions on this topic:

  • 43 (82%) agreed with the proposed option to investigate and deliver a suitable building to continue providing library services in Te Aroha
  • 4 (8%) agreed with the alternative option to close the Te Aroha library
  • 5 submitters (10%) did not have an opinion on the topic or did not select a preferred option.
What was agreed

We heard loud and clear that the Te Aroha community values their library and want to see these services remain in their community – so Council endorsed this, and voted to keep the $4.7 million for the Te Aroha Library in the budget.

More investigation is required to determine what this project might involve, so we would come back and consult with the community in more detail once we have more information.

What has increased

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Resource recovery centres

More investigation is required to understand the options.

We will come back and consult with the community in more detail once we have more information.

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Morrinsville stormwater upgrades

Severe weather events in recent years have resulted in flooding in Morrinsville – particularly in the CBD.

To ensure the safety of people and property this project will progress.

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Wastewater treatment plant upgrades

We need to upgrade all of our wastewater treatment plants to comply with the new environmental regulations.

Alongside this work we are also planning to increase the capacity of our plants to cater for growth.

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Matamata stadium

This project is well underway and Council’s $3m contribution has already been committed.

What we're unsure of

Waitoa water supply

We will continue to work on water supply options for the Waitoa community. Once we have this information we will consult with those who will be affected by the decision.

Looking further ahead

Swim Zone Morrinsville

The pool is nearing the end of its asset life and we will be looking to upgrade or replace it from year 4 (2027/2028) of this plan.

Water meters

We will continue to investigate water meters. If the management of water services remains our responsibility and we do go ahead with the installation of water meters it would be from 2027/2028.

Approach to rates and debt

What we proposed

We proposed that that our rates need a significant increase in the year ahead to manage the significant increase in costs we are facing (as outlined in our consultation document).

What you told us

There were 34 submissions on this topic:

  • 17 (50%) agreed with the philosophy that rates needed to be significantly increased in the year ahead to manage the significant increase in costs
  • 8 (24%) preferred the option of borrowing money to help cover the high operational costs for the year ahead, and paying this back over the following year
  • 9 submitters (26%) did not have an opinion on the topic or did not select a preferred option.
What was agreed

After considering the preliminary decisions and the feedback received, Council agreed that the most appropriate option is to accept we need a significant rates increase in the year ahead to manage the significant cost increases we are facing. To check find out what that means for you, search your property at mpdc.nz/rates2024