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30 July 2019

Masterton District Council has laid out its biggest challenges in a report to inform discussion ahead of the local government election in October.

Water security and the wellbeing of residents feature strongly.

“We urgently need to find ways to make sure we have enough water for our growing population, factoring in the impacts of climate change,” Chief Executive Kath Ross said.

“This will be one of the biggest issues we’ll face over the next 10 to 20 years.”

Housing is also high on the agenda with anecdotal reports homelessness is on the rise in the district.

“Rental housing and home ownership are becoming less affordable and the situation is even more challenging in Masterton because we don’t have Housing New Zealand in the district.”

The pre-election report also includes details of the Council’s big projects, such as introducing smart water meters, developing Hood Aerodrome, revamping the town centre, redeveloping the library and building a new pound facility.

As for rates, Ms Ross said the Council’s strategy is outlined in black and white, including the limit it has set on rates increases.

“Our rates increases are below what was planned and well below the limit we set ourselves. Rates make up 66 per cent of our income and we strongly believe in keeping it affordable.

“Rates inevitably become a discussion point during elections. It’s important to realise that for a rate cut to happen, levels of service and already-committed projects need to be dropped.”

Ms Ross urged candidates and voters to spend time going through the pre-election report to make sure they’re up to speed with the big issues.

“This is your chance to have your say or, if you’re standing, make a difference for your community. To do that effectively, you need to understand the challenges we’re facing.”