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Environment Southland (ES) councillors adopted their 2022-23 annual plan yesterday, honouring their commitment in last year’s long-term plan to keep rates increases at an average of 5%, despite increasing financial pressures.
Chairman Nicol Horrell said council had worked extremely hard to re-prioritise work and find efficiencies within the organisation in order to stick to the planned rates increase.
"We understand that Southlanders, like the rest of the country, are facing many increases in the cost of living, and we are doing everything we can to keep rates down, while working towards the outcomes our community expects from us," he said.
"At the same time, we are facing many similar cost pressures, particularly rising inflation and interest costs, and some ongoing uncertainties relating to income."
A number of their climate resilience projects are under way, along with significant progress on the Jobs for Nature Mahi mo te Taiao projects.
"Two of our Fiordland-based projects are already making a difference, ridding the national park of invasive plants, while supporting the economic wellbeing of the community. We are ready to build on these achievements in the 2022-23 year."
Freshwater challenges are a critical focus for ES, and there has been some good progress made in understanding the level of change needed to be made.
Some of the key differences in the annual plan from last year’s long-term plan include:
- Increased operating costs and higher than expected inflation and interest rates.
- A review of the climate resilience projects, including an additional $3 million contingency, which has been built into the budget to provide for potential increased costs.
- The introduction of a rabbit control rate in a specific area east of the Mataura River. The new rabbit control rate is higher to cover increased costs for the work, as well as costs associated with administering and monitoring the contract.