Big infrastructure spend in draft plan for Clutha

Bryan Cadogan. Photo: ODT files
Bryan Cadogan. Photo: ODT files
The Clutha District Council will embark on the biggest infrastructure investment in its history, if its latest long-term plan is adopted unchanged.

However, if the plan is adopted unchanged, the council looks set to remain within its self-imposed rates cap of 4% once more this year.

The council publishes its 2021-31 long-term plan document in today’s Clutha Leader, including a headline rates increase for the coming year of 3.53%.

An average rates rise of 3.39% is forecast during each of the next 10 years although, in the short-term, this would require the council diverting $1.75 million of funding from roading.

Key areas into which rates revenues will be directed include promotion of continuing growth in the district; maintaining and upgrading infrastructure - with a particular emphasis on Three Waters; and the imminent Milton main street upgrade project.

Roading is expected to remain the largest single cost during the next 10 years, at $210 million for operational and capital spending.

Drinking water provision comes in second, at $148 million, and community services third, at $91 million.

The council expects about 60% of revenues to derive from rates, and the remainder from other sources such as NZ Transport Agency roading subsidies, user charges, and investment returns.

The long-term plan also includes provision to borrow up to $80 million, to fund $276 million of asset building between now and 2031.

In his mayoral message, Clutha’s Bryan Cadogan highlighted the $1.1 billion of assets the council needed to maintain and upgrade.

‘‘[This] demands a breadth of focus. Quite rightly our ratepayers’ expectations are that facilities like halls and swimming pools are given appropriate attention, just like traditional core services.’’

The proposed infrastructure investments were the biggest in the council’s history, but should see residents through for several decades, he said.

Alongside continuing work on upgrading the district’s wastewater plants, the council would spend $23.8 million providing safer drinking water to comply with new national standards.

Work to encourage growth in the Milton-Waihola corridor, which would include a new drinking water pipeline between the towns, and new wastewater and water treatment plants in Milburn, would cost $40.1 million.

Another $18.5 million is earmarked for replacement of ageing water pipes across the district.

An initial budget of $2 million to upgrade Milton’s main street, proposed in 2018, will have to increase by up to $3 million if original ambitions are to be realised.

The long-term plan details unforeseen issues leading to the budget increase, including replacement of water pipes and costs relating to undergrounding of powerlines.

The document presents three options to ratepayers, including extending planned improvements from Abercrombie St to Mill St, for a revised total of $5 million.

Mr Cadogan said the plan aimed to find the right balance between ‘‘investing in the future’’, service provision, and rates affordability.

Submissions close on April 30.

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