Hundreds of submissions made on Annual PlanSave
By Matthew Martin
Dozens of locals have asked to be heard in person after making submissions to this year's Rotorua Lakes Council annual plan.
Rotorua's residential ratepayers are facing a 4.1 per cent average rate increase in the coming year with 0.5 per cent of that factored in to cover losses after the closure of the Rotorua Museum due to earthquake damage.
The draft plan sees an average rates increase across the district of 3.8 per cent, with the proposed increase coming on top of a 6 to 8 per cent average rise for urban residents in 2015 and a 2 to 2.2 per cent average rise last year.
The council also wants public submissions on proposals for the East Rotoiti/Rotoma sewerage scheme, a move to a 100 per cent targeted rate for waste services, the $6.5 million redevelopment and earthquake strengthening of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, among other projects.
Submissions to the plan closed on May 12 with 295 received and 41 people asking to be heard in person.
Glenys Searancke, chairwoman of Rotorua's largest ratepayer group - the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers Association, said, "I'll get in there and have a listen, for interest's sake if nothing else."
She said she had found the amount of consultation going on hard to follow, especially the financials.
"[The council's] consultation documents are not easy to follow and I think people are struggling to understand what they are driving at.
"For the average ratepayer who is not fully involved with the process it can be quite baffling."
Also running with the annual plan process are consultation and hearings on the Gambling and Board Venue policy review, the Rotorua Spatial Plan, Vision 2030 - The Rotorua Way, a review of the council's Water Services and Trade Waste Bylaw 2010, and Cy-Way consultation.
Councillor and operations and monitoring committee chairman Charles Sturt said he was looking forward to the hearings next week.
"We need to hear from our community as it's a very important part of the democratic process."
The council's governance and partnerships manager Oonagh Hopkins said the strategy, policy and finance committee would hear the submissions with each submitter getting 10 minutes - five minutes to speak and five for questions from councillors.
"A full summary of all 295 submissions received will be part of a report to go to the strategy, policy and finance committee in June when the committee will deliberate and make recommendations to the full council for its consideration and final decisions regarding the 2017/18 annual plan.
"We have not been made aware of any confusion over the various consultations which council has been undertaking recently.
"Council's consultation platform Let's Talk - Korero Mai makes it clear there are separate consultations happening," she said.
- Submissions closed May 12
- Verbal submissions being heard May 23 and 24 in the council chamber
- Total submissions: 295
- Submitters being heard in person: 41
- Annual plan deliberations June 6 and 7
- Annual plan adopted June 29