It’s no secret that Marlborough is #brillianteveryday and as more people discover the delights of the wonderful region we call home, our population will continue to grow, our economy will remain strong and our lifestyle rich and diverse.
To cater for regional growth Marlborough District Council have implemented the Growing Marlborough initiative to help guide strategic investment and development decisions. This influences the development of the Marlborough Environment Plan, 30-year infrastructure strategy and Long Term Plans. But as any strategist knows, long term plans need to be considered in bite sized chunks and that’s why Marlborough District Council also prepares an Annual Plan to set out projects and budgets for the twelve months ahead.
The region’s Draft Annual Plan for 2017/18 has recently been released, and we caught up with Marlborough’s Mayor, John Leggett, to find out more about it.
Mayor Leggett began by telling us that in line with the long term plan, Council has continued to adopt a strong emphasis on core infrastructure, placing a high priority on roads, flood control and maintaining emergency reserves, affirming that recent events had confirmed the wisdom of these priorities.
In addition to maintaining these major capital projects, council staff and Councillors have brought forward ideas for funding consideration and as a result have agreed that the Annual Plan should also include several new initiatives. With the two largest being far-sighted, advances in the use of technology that will have a long term impact on the region.
- Digitising the complex resource consent process, and;
- helping to expand rural broadband into the Marlborough Sounds.
Mayor Leggett is in favour of these inclusions, saying, “As a lawyer I am well familiar with the paper war so I think Council’s continuing digital advances are brilliant. We’ve already shown what’s possible by becoming the first local authority to digitise our property files and the building and engineering sectors have seen the benefit of that.”
Mayor Leggett also notes that these two major technology projects, plus the Council’s commitment to a pyrolysis plant (smart technology to deal with unwanted vineyard posts in an environmentally sound way) fit well with Marlborough’s economic development strategy of being Smart + Connected, an important driver in ensuring the region becomes a globally-connected district of progressive, high-value enterprise, known for economic efficiency, quality lifestyle, desirable location and natural environment.
We asked Mayor Leggett how, when compiling the draft annual plan, Council juggled the needs of Marlborough’s urban and suburban areas alongside the more rural areas of the district. He advised that Councillors were always conscious that there are widely differing needs amongst urban areas and remote parts of the district, saying “Rural ratepayers are vigorously represented at the Council table and I am satisfied that, given both the size of the rural population and the economic contribution they make to the district, they are well served by Council. We don’t forget, for example, that town folk drive on country roads or that country people do come into town and use libraries and swimming pools from time to time.”
Council expects to be able to deliver its whole programme of annual plan projects with an increase of just 2.33% in rates and charges, almost 3% less than those estimated in the Long Term Plan. With projected debt levels also well down the future looks #brillianteveryday!
To view the full scope of the Marlborough District Council Annual Plan Update 2017/18 visit marlborough.govt.nz.