The Council is effective in recognising, planning and leading current and future strategic and operational needs.
The Council is working towards a higher growth future for its district. Council strategy is being revised to inform the Long Term Plan and District Plan.
As the Council is the district’s leading facilitator, strong Council leadership is required to involve the community in this high growth transformation.
Investing money well
The Council is making changes to enhance its performance and accountability reporting. There are challenges ahead, especially in relation to future debt levels and income sources in a growth environment, and significant investment in infrastructure is required.
Current financial performance benchmarks are generally being met, although a balanced budget was marginally missed (99.24 per cent instead of 100 per cent). Financial decision-making and transparency will be enhanced by the Council moving to fully funding its depreciation, and it is developing a new risk framework across the
organisation, particularly for asset management plans and projects.
Delivering what’s important
The Council is meeting most of its current performance benchmarks and is moving to future-proof its service provision. But there is a need for improved reporting on performance and accountability.
Most of the current performance benchmarks are being achieved. However, given the expected growth in the district, major pressures are expected on service delivery and asset management.
These pressures include:
- new local roading (resulting from the completion of the Ōtaki-Levin section of the Wellington Northern Corridor and associated roading changes);
- infrastructure maintenance;
- future wastewater discharges;
- possible outsourcing of solid waste; and
- new consents for drinking water supply.
There is public concern about the volume of untreated stormwater that is reaching environmentally sensitive areas, and about the potential failure of aging wastewater assets. Stormwater discharge into Lake Horowhenua, while being addressed, is yet to be resolved, and is out of step with the Council’s claim of a “pristine environment” for the district. Without significant capital investment in the wastewater network ($16 million over four years), there is a risk that the Council may breach the regional council’s resource consent conditions.
The need for more drinking water in Levin is recognised, but the consent to increase take is contested. Consequently, improved water demand management is essential for the district.
Other service areas such as property management have been brought in-house to improve data management and efficiencies, with outsourcing where expertise is required. The Council hasinvested heavily in community amenities. Efficiencies and savings have been gained through meeting 24-hour Land Information Memorandum (LIM) requests and through consenting time being reduced by digitisation. Some shared services are operating.
Listening and responding
The Council has active communications and is developing its areas of engagement.
Horowhenua district is experiencing a diverging stakeholder interest, with an increase in its youth and its 65+ population. The district has strong interests in northern and neighbouring areas - particularly southern Palmerston North – with workers from these areas commuting to Kāpiti, the Hutt Valley and Wellington.
Engagement with a diverse community and several distinct communities of interest is an unavoidable challenge. This is amplified by growth changes and their effect on land use, infrastructure, services, the environment, cultural needs, and the Council’s future plans (particularly its Long Term Plan and District Plan).