New Year greetings

By Anne Tolley, Tauranga Commission Chair

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With the arrival of 2024, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Business News readers a happy and prosperous new year.

2023 certainly had its challenges, as businesses dealt with the impacts of high inflation on their input costs and higher interest charges on their borrowings. Combined with the squeeze that the ‘cost of living crisis’ has had on consumer spending, that will have affected many businesses.

Similar conditions look like prevailing through at least the early months of 2024, although there are encouraging signs that at least some of our economic headwinds are easing. Fingers crossed that those trends continue.

And of course, Covid is still with us and may always be, in one of its ever-mutating forms. The pandemic’s impacts have become less-intrusive though, as we have learned to live with and work around it. I trust that will continue and add my best wishes for a healthy 2024 to the season’s greetings above.

Looking at Tauranga City Council’s near- and mid-term priorities, first and foremost is the need to finalise our draft 2024-34 Long-term Plan (LTP). While this is very much a ‘steady as she goes’ plan, from a business perspective, the proposal to introduce an industrial rate during the next financial year would see industrial operations paying a greater share of the city’s total rates, in line with their greater use of, and impact on our infrastructure, particularly our transport network. At the same time, commercial ratepayers would pay a smaller share, which would reduce their 2024/25 rates increases.

The draft LTP also sought community feedback on the concept of using variable road pricing to ease congestion on our main highways and provide an alternative funding method to rates, which potentially could be introduced at some stage in the future, subject to a law change and a formal community consultation process.

Based on the submissions received, it seems that many people would rather sit in worsening traffic queues than contemplate any form of road charging. For most businesses, faster journeys would bring benefits in productivity and delivery and customer service reliability. The revenue road charging would generate would also allow future transport network improvements to be brought forward, for the benefit of all users, so the Commission will need to weigh those factors carefully when it decides whether or not to proceed to a business case investigation which would be needed to confirm the benefits and establish the details around how road charging could work in practice.

And finally, we have an election to look forward to when the Commission’s tenure comes to an end in July. We definitely do not want to go back to the dysfunctional governance that blighted recent elected councils, so if you think you could make a difference, please consider putting yourself forward as a candidate.

We have an information evening planned for Monday, 19 February (at the Holy Trinity Church, Devonport Rd, from 4-8pm), where a range of former councillors, city partners and the commissioners will talk about what a council role is like, how council works and the qualities of good governance. The Electoral Officer will also provide an overview of the nomination and election processes for those who are looking to stand.

For further information, email election24@tauranga.govt.nz.

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Anne Tolley
Anne Tolley
Tauranga Commission Chair

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