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Road to Recovery – Community voice heard in Three Year Plan deliberations

Three Year Plan 2024 2027 1

The voice of the Central Hawke's Bay community was at the centre of deliberations when Council met to consider its draft Three Year Plan and budget last week, resulting in rates increasing on average by 20.9% for the 2024/2025 financial year.    

“Tough calls have been made to get here. This includes closing and reducing some services or facilities. We've also used external funding in the first year to reduce average rates by over four percent. But none of this is enough to soften the blow of these rate increases,” said Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Alex Walker.  

The deliberations followed a four-week consultation period with the Central Hawke's Bay community where Council proposed three budget options that explored a lower, central and higher rating impact across four trade-off investment and service areas: land transport, drinking water and wastewater, prioritising stormwater following Cyclone Gabrielle, and other service reductions and efficiencies.     

The Mayor said there were some common themes across the 285 submissions.  

“The views of the community came through loud and clear, with a strong focus on Land Transport and retaining library services. We also heard our community’s expectations on the efficiency and value of Council services, which will be top of mind as we implement the Three Year Plan. It was really heartening that most of the feedback was focused on the best way forward,” she said. 

 “Rates affordability for our community is our biggest challenge. However, we can't repeat past mistakes and choose not to fund critical infrastructure," Mayor Walker says. “These decisions were always going to be hard given the challenging economic times for households and the largely fixed costs Council is up against. Additionally, repairing major damage to roads and other infrastructure following Cyclone Gabrielle is needed.”   

The Council will continue to seek external funding opportunities and has been successful in securing significant non-rates funds in the last year. Rates rebates are available to low-income households, and rates postponements are available to ratepayers who are facing financial hardship, she said. People can talk to the District Council or go to the website ( to find out more.  

“While our community strongly supported keeping the library open, we are still giving up some ‘nice to haves’. We’re all going to notice some changes. Some of our parks will not receive the same level of attention, for example. But the community has been great at making it clear what the really important things are and where we want the work to happen.”  

In light of the submissions with a focus on Land Transport and roading and a shared concern to see safer roads, Council agreed the community would support an additional increase of 0.6% ($205,000 coming from rates with a further $295,000 from NZTA Waka Kotahi) to help improve road safety by ensuring quality repairs can be made sooner, she said. Subject to co-funding from NZTA Waka Kotahi, this will be used to deliver a one-off catchup on metalling rural roads (delivering an extra 8.3 kilometers) and a one-off catchup on roading reseals (delivering an additional six kilometres of reseals).  

Council's discussion focused on key areas identified by the community’s feedback including land transport, drinking water and wastewater, stormwater, and reduction of services particularly in relation to Transfer Stations and the Waipawa Library.  

“We’re truly grateful to our people for providing direction on priorities. We can now work together on turning a challenge into an investment in the future that our grandchildren will thank us for.”  

The Three Year Plan will be adopted at Council's public meeting on 13 June with the new rates coming into effect on 1 July 2024.  

The Council deliberations and decisions are available on the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council website at  The deliberations session can be viewed at

5 June 2024

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