Adoption of Long Term Plan Delayed
Mackenzie District Council has indicated that the preparation of the 2021 - 2031 Long Term Plan has been delayed and will miss the deadline for adoption by the end of June.
The Long Term Plan (LTP) is a requirement of the Local Government Act which outlines all the processes a council undertakes and how they fit together. LTP's include information on activities and services provided by a council, and specific funding and financial management policies and plans.
Suzette van Aswegen, Chief Executive Officer said 'Council invited assessors from CouncilMark to audit our performance in 2018, and they made several recommendations that we are working to implement. In summary we need to take a more holistic view, and move away from an 'ad-hoc' decision making process to a position where we can take a more strategic approach. We must also address years of underfunding and improve our compliance focus. These recommendations have resulted in an ongoing process of organisational change and transformation which will ultimately ensure Council is better able to provide for the needs of the communities we serve'.
Van Aswegen explains that in addition to the workload created by the transformation process, which includes engaging our communities to develop several new strategic documents to prepare for growth and inform future investment, several external factors have significantly impacted the LTP process. It is important that we take the time to create a plan that will help us deliver the outcomes needed to move the District forward and will satisfy audit requirements. Recovery from the impact of COVID-19 is being factored into all future planning, and tight timescales around the government's three water reform program have been resource intensive and created significant uncertainty. Councils are also addressing resource management reforms in addition to the ongoing climate change response.
'This perfect storm of internal and external factors has meant that despite the best efforts of our small team, we are unable to complete the process in time for adoption by June 30' said van Aswegen.
Mackenzie District Mayor, Graham Smith, said that while Council strives to meet deadlines '…we are a very small team and the need to understand and respond to the changing regulatory environment places a significant burden on staff and our communities who ultimately foot the bill. But it is important that we take the time we need to create a LTP that reflects the long-term requirements for the District, incorporates a prudent and sustainable financial strategy and delivers the infrastructure and services that our communities need. We will ensure that residents and ratepayers have had the opportunity to comment on the proposals in a meaningful way, and we hope people will take the time to read the consultation document and let us know their view.
The consultation document will be made available to the public for consultation in the next few weeks. Feedback can be submitted online or in writing, and there will be the opportunity to address Councillors directly at a hearing. Final amendments are then made before the plan is formally adopted.
Van Aswegen said 'We are working towards completing the plan in time for us to strike rates for the new financial year. To be prudent, we are in tandem working to understand what the implications are if the setting of rates is delayed, and to re-plan our activities and workstreams to minimize any impact to our communities'. Ultimately, we will ensure that we deliver a Long Term Plan that provides for growth in the District; takes account of government-driven changes; recognises the economic challenges we face as a result of COVID-19; and has the prosperity and wellbeing of our communities at its heart'.
You can learn more about Long Term Plans and the council planning cycle by following the link below.