2024: The year of progress

By James Denyer, Western Bay of Plenty Mayor

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It was a tough year for many in 2023, with rising costs of living and severe weather events. However, there is a quiet optimism that 2024 is shaping up to be a more positive year as economic conditions improve and we enjoy a cracking summer.

We have some exciting projects which we will be progressing this year.

Construction will start on the development of 26 elder housing units at Heron Crescent in Katikati. The funding we have received from government and the contract that was awarded late last year means that Council will significantly improve our provision of housing for some of the most vulnerable in the community. It also puts the overall portfolio on a much stronger financial footing, given that the new units are fully funded from external sources.

It will be exciting to see the Te Puke Spatial Plan progress, which ultimately will guide how Te Puke grows in the future. We will be involving the community from the start of this planning process to ensure it is done the right way.

We want to know what is important to the people who live there, what needs improving, what should stay the same and what other facilities are needed.

Construction of the roundabout for the State Highway 2/ Ōmokoroa Road intersection will also be kicking up a gear. The upgrade will help improve safety at the intersection and also unlock critical new housing potential in Ōmokoroa.

Our decision to defer adoption of the Long Term Plan (LTP) until September was supported by legislation proposed by the new government, recognising the uncertainty and change local government faces. This deferral has also allowed Council to stand back and see what other councils are looking at in terms of future rate rises.

Finding ways to cut costs but not services is a perpetual challenge for councils.

Unfortunately, it is clear that almost all councils will have large rate increases this year as the effects of inflation bite and the costs of essential infrastructure are factored in. The infrastructure needed will vary by council, but most have some mix of repairing damage from severe weather, large increases in the costs of bringing roads up to scratch, adhering to higher standards for water assets and providing quality facilities for the community.

It is important to live within our means and the best way we can do this is by finding out what projects in our District matter to people the most. This year we will be asking our community to join us in looking at the bigger picture, as we put together our Long Term Plan.

We are committed to listening to what people have to say and doing the right things for the right reasons.

But, again, it comes down to priorities. We will be asking, what is at the top of people’s lists? What are they prepared to live with… and without?

There will be some big decisions to make, and the community’s input will be crucial. I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Related: Western Bay of Plenty District Council

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James Denyer
James Denyer
James Denyer, Western Bay Of Plenty Mayor

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