Every 10 years Council lays out a Long-Term Plan (LTP) that sets the strategic direction over the next 10 years.
Annual plans are usually produced in the years between the LTPs, giving us an opportunity to review and revise rates, budgets, projects and goals from those originally proposed in the LTP.
Annual Plan 2020-21
On 24 June Masterton District Council adopted its Annual Plan for the 2020-21 financial year.
The plan was developed in unprecedented times and during a period of uncertainty and change. Just as we were about to ask your thoughts on what we thought the year ahead looked like New Zealand went into lockdown to combat COVID-19.
It prompted council to revisit plans for the year ahead with responding to, and recovering from, COVID-19 in mind. We trimmed $977,000 from our planned spending by deferring non-essential work, carrying forward funding from the previous financial year and using money we already had in the bank to reduce the rates increase.
While we have enacted immediate measures to ease the impact on our community, we are continuing to work with the Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils on a recovery plan and supporting its implementation, in addition to actions specific to Masterton District Council.
We’re committed to progressing key projects:
- Town Centre Revamp – We’re progressing plans to rejuvenate Masterton’s Town Centre and entrances.
- Town Hall – We’ve decided that Masterton needs a multi-purpose civic facility and we’re budgeting $250,000 over the coming year to pay for initial planning and design work.
- The future of Henley Lake – We’re going to seek a new consent to only take water from the Ruamāhunga River when the river is at healthy levels. This will save ratepayers money. We will also invest $30,000 in an automated system to manage the water take to improve efficiency.
- A new skatepark – Our proposal to invest in a new skatepark for Masterton received strong support from our community. The full revamp is estimated to cost $1.35 million and we’re budgeting half of this for the coming year – we’ll be seeking funding from other agencies and organisations to pay for the rest of the project.
- NOTE: The skatepark has now been fully funded through a grant from the Provincial Growth Fund as a ‘shovel-ready’ project that will help drive employment and productivity post Covid-19. This funding comes from Central Government.
- Water resilience – We’ve heard our community’s call for a greater focus on water resilience. A strategy around management of water to improve our resilience during dry periods is underway that will help inform decisions about water storage. Meanwhile, the rollout of water meters is progressing well. The water meters will help us identify leaks in our water network and encourage users to be more mindful of their water consumption.
- Looking after our animals – We’ve been looking at options for improving our animal shelter so lost pets have a better place to pass the time while we locate their owners. Work on building a new pound will start in the next 12 months.
- Improving our Hood Aerodrome – We’re investing in Hood Aerodrome to give it a good foundation for future improvements. We’ll start with a runway expansion and safety improvements.
How does the Council's planning process work?
Every three years – part way through each election term – the city is required to develop and adopt a long-term plan. In the years between long-term plans, annual plans are produced that outline any changes to the budget.
At the end of each year, an annual report and summary annual report let the community know about what’s been achieved and how we have performed, as well as anything that hasn’t quite gone to plan or anything unexpected that’s come up.
What is an Annual Plan?
Annual plans are produced for the years between long-term plans. Annual plans give us the opportunity to refresh information and budgets for the coming year, and include the setting of rates.
Why can Councils choose not to consult on annual plans?
A series of amendments were made to the Local Government Act 2002 (the Act) in 2014 to encourage new ways of consulting and communicating with the community.
One of these amendments removed the requirement for councils to formally consult “if there are no significant or material differences to the content of the long-term plan”. This now makes formal consultation on proposed annual plans exceptions based.
An annual plan that includes an overview of any minor changes in costs (along with all other information required under Part 2 of Schedule 10 of the Act) must still be prepared and adopted by council resolution before 30 June.
How do we determine what's significant?
Section 5 of the Local Government Act 2002 (the Act) describes “significance” as the degree of importance of any issue, proposal, decision, or matter, as assessed by the local authority, in terms of its likely impact on, and consequences for:
- the city (district) or region
- anyone likely to be particularly affected or interested
- the capacity of the local authority to perform its role, and the financial and other costs of doing so.
Section 5 also describes “significant” as any issue, proposal, decision, or other matter having a “high degree of significance, that is:
- significant or material variations/departures from the financial statements or funding impact statement in the long-term plan
- significant new spending proposals, and the associated costs, or
- substantial delays to, or cancellation of, significant projects, and associated implications.
The Council is required to have a significance and engagement policy under Section 76AA of the Local Government Act 2002. The Policy is reviewed every three years as part of long-term plans.
Significance is more than a financial impact, and often items with low value but that have high public interest can be significant.
Significance is ultimately determined by the elected members – here’s a link to Masterton District’s Significance and Engagement Policy (PDF, 637KB).
What's the difference between formal consultation and engagement?
Consultation involves receiving public feedback on proposals and is one form of engagement. The Council regularly consults communities through processes such as the long-term plan, which determine Council’s strategic direction, as well as how it sets budgets and prioritises projects.
The Council will consult with the community about significant decisions following the principles set out in Section 82 of the Act. The Council can also decide to consult at any time on a decision, where it considers that appropriate. For most Council decisions, there is no express requirement to consult the public, but we will consider people’s views and preferences.
Engagement is a broader and ongoing process of sharing information with the community and seeking its feedback, with the purpose of involving the community in the process of decision making. This may or may not include a more formal consultation process.
What if I have feedback for Council?
We are happy to receive feedback at any time throughout the year, not just at annual plan time.
Please get in touch if you want to share your ideas, have some positive feedback about our staff, or have something you are not so happy about via our complaint, compliment or fix it forms or by calling 06 370 6300.
What are other councils doing?
Since the amendment was made in 2014, more than 20 councils have had only minor changes to forecasts and have therefore elected not to formally consult.
For 2019-20, a number of councils in the Wellington region are choosing to take this approach. Hutt City, Greater Wellington, Kāpiti Coast, and Porirua in particular have indicated this.
How does it relate to my rates bill?
Each year, the rates get set in the annual plan. The average rate increase for 2019-20 was set as part of the 2018–28 Long-Term Plan.
What is a Long-Term Plan?
The Long-Term Plan (LTP) is the capital and operational expenditure the Council intends to undertake over the next 20 years, and the impacts on the community.
The LTP describes these impacts in financial and non-financial terms, through financial statements and the resulting changes to rates and debt. The non-financial terms are mainly the performance measures relating to the levels of service.
It’s important to remember that the LTP is only a forecast and the actual results may be different, particularly after year 4, as there is a new LTP developed every three years.
What is required when amending a Long-Term Plan?
The amendment process would depend on the complexity of the amendment, but any amendment must go through a formal public consultation and submission process where the proposal is considered by the community for no less than one calendar month. Any amendment must be externally audited.
How else can I give feedback throughout the year?
Engaging with our community happens all-year-round, not just when it comes time to the Annual Plan process.
Currently, we’re seeking feedback on proposed changes to the Wairarapa Class 4 Gambling and Standalone TAB Venues Policy.
You are also welcome to drop in to our office at 161 Queen Street between 8.00 am and 4.30 pm and give your feedback to any of our friendly customer service executives.