In October 2022 a new Council was sworn in and three immediate focus areas were identified:
1. Recovery from the August 2022 severe weather event and future resilience
2. Minimising rates increases through the cost of living crisis
3. Reset of governance to be a cohesive and effective Council
It is important to note that these are specific priorities for 2023/24 in addition to those already in the Long Term Plan that include infrastructure, housing affordability and intensification, climate change, and partnership with Māori and iwi (see here for more information). Council will also continue to deliver to the community the services and projects included in its Long Term Plan. A review of longer term priorities will occur through the development of the next Long Term Plan 2024-34 later this year.
First and foremost, working with our community on the recovery from the August 2022 severe weather event is Council’s top priority.
It will take many years for our city to recover from the damage sustained. A huge amount of recovery work has already been undertaken but much more remains to be done. Council’s work programme will need to prioritise the repair and rebuild and, where possible, build back more resiliently to prepare for the impacts of our changing climate.
Council is keenly aware of the strain the cost of living is placing on the community. We have heard from young families struggling to stay on top of mortgage repayments as interest rates have risen, and from older residents shocked by food prices in their weekly shop. We know rising costs are putting already stressed local businesses under more pressure.
Council is determined to do what it can to keep rates increases down so as not to add pressure on the community. Although rates may not make up a large part of cost of living increases, we do not want to add to the burden with increasing rates revenue above inflation.
During the election campaign we received a clear message from our community – you want a cohesive Council with elected members you can rely on to work constructively with each other and with staff to get the job done. This governance reset is about making Council more business-like, professional and collegial. It is important that Council has a clear separation between governance and management, with elected members setting the overall direction and staff implementing the decisions and work programmes. The reset is also about efficient decision-making and encouraging closer relationships with our community and with partners such as Tasman District Council.
Continuing to improve governance relationships and how everyone works together, will support elected members to engage more effectively with the community and make robust decisions for Nelson, now and into the future.