Council let $100 million go down the plughole to please developers.
Ratepayers suffer the consequences
By Veronica Harrod, Horowhenua correspondent
Rates are set to skyrocket in Horowhenua with plans by Horowhenua District Council to spend up to $52.5 million on new waste water systems — and $54.3 million on water systems at Waitarere, Hokio, Ohau, Manakau and Waikawa Beach.
But since 2015 there has been an explosion of property developments and, if Council had not cancelled development contributions,up to $100 million could have been raised in extra revenue!
This year’s rate rise — 6.5%
These financial forecasts are included in the district’s first 20-year Long Term Plan (2018-2038)( for water and waste water. These are separate to an expected general rate increases of 6.53 percent for the 2018-2019 year.
The council has stated a preference for building new water and waste water systems in both existing settlements and “growth areas” from land development except in Levin and Foxton.
In Levin and Foxton $6.9 million is proposed for upgrades to the existing water supply systems and $7 million for upgrades to the waste water systems.
Servicing the growth areas
Areas earmarked for new water systems to service “growth areas” range from $20 million for a new water supply scheme at Waitarere, almost $8 million at Waikawa, $5.8 million at Ohau, $9 million at Manakau and $11.8 million at Hokio.
Areas earmarked for new waste water systems “to service growth areas” range from $7 million at Manakau, over $20 million in Ohau, $9.8 million at Waikawa and $15.5 million at Hokio.
In 2015, the council voted to cancel development contributions that land developers formerly paid towards essential infrastructure costs, based on each new house build.
Most councils have a development contributions policy because sharing the cost of essential infrastructure between residents and developers is regarded as fair and equitable.
The development explosion
Since 2015 there’s been a development explosion: If Council had not cancelled development contributions, up to $100 million could have been raised for essential infrastructure from land developers based on $15,000 per new house build This covers at least 12 land development projects included in the 2008 Horowhenua Development Plan that the public was not consulted on.
Coinciding with the intention to construct new essential infrastructure is an intention by council to support the establishment of an investment trust. The council’s economic development manager, Shanon Grainger, said in a report presented to the October 2017 strategy committee the Trust would undertake, “local projects such as the Levin Town Centre, the provision of better water infrastructure and resources, and the freeing up of land for residential, commercial and industrial construction…using a mix of private equity, bank-sourced debt and possibly council assets or equity.”
Recently a Salvation Army State of the Nation report found that economic growth has not been a growth shared by the many. Levin Salvation Army Community Ministries co-ordinator Linda Murray was quoted in an article in a local community newspaper saying there is a serious lack of affordable housing and the impact was felt even by those bringing two wages into the household.
The only conclusion that can be drawn is that if the 2018-2038 LTP is adopted “as is” not only will there be an exodus of residents who can’t afford the unsustainable rates rises but the serious lack of affordable housing will only grow worse.