Tough choices

As a regional council, we play a core role in the management of natural resources including: land, air, and water; supporting biodiversity and biosecurity; providing regional transport services; and building more resilient communities in the face of climate change and natural hazards.

Most of what we do is set by legislation. We do, however, have limited discretion over some services and some service levels.

To make savings and to reduce the average rates increases we are proposing to stop some services we provide to the community and temporarily slow down some others.

Cutting services is a difficult conversation that we want to hear from you on. Below is some information about our proposals and the impacts of them. We encourage you to have a read and let us know if we have got it right by making a submission.

What should we stop or slow?

We propose to:

What we currently do

We collect a targeted rate on behalf of Hawke’s Bay’s five councils to promote economic development for the region. Of this we give $1.52 million to Hawke’s Bay Tourism.

As part of the funding agreement with Hawke’s Bay Tourism, they must report quarterly against key performance indicators such as visitor numbers and spend per visitor number.

What we are proposing to do

Phase out our funding for Hawke’s Bay Tourism.

To view the tables below in PDF format, see Part 4 of our full Consultation Document.

Option A

The Regional Council’s preferred option is to reduce current annual funding of $1.52 million in stages over the next two years and stop our funding altogether from 2026-27 onwards.

This is what is modelled in the 19.6% average rates increase.

Item 1 Option A Chart 

Option B

We could maintain funding at $1.52 million for 2024-25, and then reduce to $441,000 per annum from 2025-26.

This option gives Hawke’s Bay Tourism more time to secure funding from other sources.

Our continued funding would be dependent on an agreement reached with the other Hawke’s Bay councils for joint funding. The $441,000 is based on the existing Regional Economic Development Agency funding split between councils. The Regional Council’s share is 29 percent.

This would increase the total average rate increase by 2.4% from 19.6% to 22% in 2024-25. The biggest impact would be on the business/rural community and, in particular, on commercial/industrial ratepayers.

Item 1 Option B chart

The status quo would be to maintain funding at $1.52 million ongoing.

Why?

The preferred option reduces the Regional Council rates in a time of unprecedented financial pressures and narrows our focus to recovery and core business to deliver our mission of ‘Enhancing our environment together’.

Tourism is important to the Hawke’s Bay region. Finding a sustainable funding model has been an ongoing challenge.

Background

We have been collecting rates on behalf of the region’s councils – Wairoa, Napier, Hastings, and Central Hawke’s Bay – for regional tourism for nearly ten years. Before that the councils collected rates from their own ratepayers and contributed individually.

In the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan, we committed to a new three-year funding agreement which increased Hawke’s Bay Tourism’s funding from $850,000 to $1.82 million over three years.

We proposed to step back funding in our 2018-2028 Long Term Plan as Council believed the additional investment had paid off and that the sector should have the momentum to sustain strong visitor numbers.

Following community consultation, we didn’t go ahead with this and instead decided to support Hawke’s Bay Tourism with funding of $1.52 million per year for three years, with future funding levels to be reviewed through the 2021-31 Long Term Plan.

We also adjusted the targeted rate spilt so commercial ratepayers paid more than residential ratepayers. This was to better reflect the ratepayers who benefit the most from economic development. Among our requests was that Hawke’s Bay Tourism look at other specific initiatives to find support from within the tourism industry.

We kept the funding the same in the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan, which was prepared in the early stages of the Covid pandemic.

What we currently do

The Sustainable Home Programme has two offerings:

1)     Clean Heat 

We offer financial assistance to eligible ratepayers through a grant of up to $700 or a loan of up to $4,500 for clean heating, for example heat pumps, gas fires, and wood burners. The interest rate is subsidised by 50%.

We charge a targeted rate on urban areas in Napier and Hastings to cover this. The community benefits from reduced emissions and less air pollution.

2)     Sustainable Homes

We offer a loan of up to $20,000 for specific products and systems from accredited providers. The interest rate is not subsidised. Products include:

  • insultation and ventilation
  • solar hot water and power
  • double glazing
  • water storage and septic tanks
  • clean heating (for ratepayers outside the Napier/Hastings airsheds).  

Ratepayers who take up the clean heat and/or the sustainable homes loan pay this money back to us over 10 years through a voluntary targeted rate on their property.

What we are proposing to do

To view the tables below in PDF format, see Part 4 of our full Consultation Document.

Option A:

Orange speech bubble with white text "Preferred option"The Regional Council’s preferred option is to stop the Clean Heat grants and loans and stop the Sustainable Home loans from July 2024. We will need to continue to charge the targeted rate for the next 12 years to allow the programme to balance.

Item 2 Option A chart

 

Option B:

We could continue offering Clean Heat grants and loans and Sustainable Home loans for the next 10 years.

Item 2 Option B Chart

 

Why?

This would mark the end of a successful programme to improve winter air quality and build resilience into homes. Uptake of clean heat in particular has slowed down in the past few years.

The Sustainable Homes programme led the way and now other providers offer similar assistance through banks’ green financing e.g. ANZ zero interest loans and ECCA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority).

Impact of our proposals

  • Ratepayers who have taken up a loan will continue to repay their loans through their voluntary targeted rate.

  • Stopping the service removes the requirement for borrowing, freeing up some debt capacity.

Background

The Clean Heat programme was originally set up in 2009 to incentivise people to replace old fireplaces (the carrot) when new regulations (the stick) came into place. Over the 15 years of Clean Heat we have approved 11,791 grants or loans which has contributed to reduced air pollution.

We have provided a further 6,408 loans under the Sustainable Homes programme which was set up in 2018 to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.

What we currently do

This scheme provides a subsidy to incentivise landowners to undertake erosion control work to help keep soil on their hills and sediment out of the region’s streams and rivers.

It targets 252,000 hectares of land in the region that is at high risk of erosion.

Landowners can currently apply for up to 75% of the project costs (up to $100,000) for work such as non-commercial tree planting, fencing, and land retirement.

We borrow for the Council’s share of the cost and spread the cost of that borrowing over the general rate. We believe erosion control has strong intergenerational community benefits. This includes improved water quality and retention, soil conservation and retention, less soil-loss impact on the marine environment and improved habitat for birds, fish, and plants.

What we are proposing to do

To view the tables below in PDF format, see Part 4 of our full Consultation Document.

Option A

The Regional Council’s preferred option is to reduce what we make available to landowners through the Erosion Control Scheme from $3.4 million per year to $2 million in 2024-25, $2.5 million in 2025-26, and $3 million the year after that.

Item 3 Option A Chart

 

Option B

We could continue our Erosion Control Scheme at 2023-24 Annual Plan levels.

Item 3 Option B chart

Why?

Landowners have incurred significant additional costs since Cyclone Gabrielle so demand for this support has dropped in the short term.

Impact of our proposals

Less investment means fewer landowners will be supported. We will use this opportunity to revisit previous sites to check progress and learn what is working and what is not.

We will also be able to focus on expanding our pole nurseries to meet future expected demand. Staff working in this area will also be engaged is supporting Land for Life.

Background

We consulted on setting up the Erosion Control Scheme as part of our 2018-2028 Long Term Plan when we signalled our intention to accelerate our work to address environmental issues. It was estimated that Hawke’s Bay’s eroding land (predominantly hill country) loses, on average, more than 3 million tonnes of sediment into the region’s waterways every year.

The scheme encourages landowners to undertake erosion control work where commercial measures are not appropriate or feasible; this includes pastoral or retired land, and on areas too small, steep, or remote.

The Regional Council approved $30 million to be spent over 10 years and to date we have received additional funding of $2.1 million from the Ministry of Primary Industries’ Hill Country Erosion Fund . When we set the scheme up in 2018, we established nurseries to grow and sell trees to landowners, and have supported 1,097 projects, helping protect 5,300 hectares of highly erodible land. 

What we currently do

We undertake a range of work across Hawke’s Bay to protect and enhance the region’s unique biodiversity.

Our targeted key work includes:

  • Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme – we provide a grant fund and, in partnership with Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay, a contestable fund to support landowners and community groups undertaking projects that support our strategic direction. We also provide a Marine Protection and Enhancement Programme.

  • Priority Ecosystem Programme – we fund pest management, planting, and fencing at rare and threatened terrestrial sites. These include wetlands, forest remnants that are becoming scarce and fragmented, and other important ecosystem types. The sites provide important habitat for native wildlife, filter and retain water in the environment, and are essential for living things.

  • A biosecurity programme - this funding is to limit the adverse effects of unwanted plants, animals, horticultural, and marine pests to meet our Regional Pest Management Plan 2018-2038.

What we are proposing to do

In 2023-24 we reduced our biodiversity and biosecurity programmes by about $1 million to re-prioritise funds into cyclone recovery activities.

To view the tables below in PDF format, see Part 4 of our full Consultation Document.

Option A:

Orange speech bubble with white text "Preferred option"The Regional Council’s preferred option is to bring that funding back over the three years of this plan.

Item 4 option A Chart

Option B:

We could reinstate our environmental enhancement, biodiversity and biosecurity programmes to pre-cyclone levels from 2024-25. This option would increase rates by $770,000 in 2024-25 and $420,000 in 2025-26 compared to option A.

Item 4 option B Chart

Impact of our proposals

  • A reduced budget for our Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme means less financial support for landowners and community groups to undertake environmental work.

  • A reduced budget for biosecurity means that plant and animal pest management will have to be prioritised and some pests may have less or no control for a period of time, for example, some possum control monitoring will be reduced to cover the unbudgeted alligator weed incursion programme and to fund wilding conifer control.

Background

Biodiversity is the huge variety of living things and how they are all connected, including plants, animals and micro-organisms, as well as the ecosystems where they live. Our indigenous biodiversity is sadly in decline across New Zealand.

Over the previous two Long Term Plans, Council has stepped up funding to address biodiversity decline. This remains a strategic priority for Regional Council.

What we currently do

  • We own and manage four regional parks - Pākōwhai, Pekapeka, Tūtira, and Waitangi. We co-own Hawea Historical Park and co-manage this with the Hawea Historical Park Whenua Topu Trust.
  • We also own Waipātiki Holiday Park which is managed independently.
  • We provide financial support of about $120,000 per year to Te Mata Park Trust for maintenance of the park. Over the past five years our support has increased.
  • We are also involved in collaborative projects to develop regional parks at Ahuriri and Wairoa.

What we are proposing to do

To view the tables below in PDF format, see Part 4 of our full Consultation Document.

Option A:

Screenshot 2024 04 09 151456

The Regional Council’s preferred option is to:

  • Reduce our current annual maintenance budget of $1 million for our regional parks by 20% each year for the next three years – that’s a saving of about $200,000 per year.
  • Stop our annual contribution to Te Mata Park Trust of $120,000 for three years.
  • Defer contributing towards development costs for Ahuriri Regional Park project. A joint committee of the Regional Council, Napier City Council, and Mana Ahuriri Trust is leading the project. We will, however, continue to pay $100,000 annually towards project management costs.
  • Defer development of Wairoa Regional Park so we can focus on developing the $70 million flood mitigation scheme for Wairoa.
  • Defer all new capital works on cycleways aside from $50,000 per year for safety improvements, and existing projects that are externally funded.

Item 5 option A Chart

 

Option B:

We could continue funding regional parks maintenance and the Te Mata Park Trust grant at 2023-24 levels and continue development of the new regional parks.

Item 5 Option B Chart

Impact of our proposals

This reduces rates for all ratepayers and enables the Asset Management Team to focus on delivering the Flood Resilience Programme.

Background

Our regional parks are constructed around waterways and have multi-purpose functions. We undertake work including riparian planting to assist with flood control, soil conservation, and water quality enhancement. A key focus is also on protecting and enhancing biodiversity so we can have healthy, functioning ecosystems. We also have regional parks to protect and enhance cultural and historic values, and provide recreational opportunities.

We leverage government funding to support these initiatives and partner with landowners with the aim to improve public access to these areas where practicable and sustainable.

Consultation timeline

Consultation opens

Monday, 15 April 2024
8am

Consultation closes

Wednesday 15 May 2024
8pm

Public hearings

29-30 May 2024
Council Chambers, 159 Dalton Street Napier

Deliberations

18 & 20 June 2024

Adoption of the Three-Year Plan 2024-27

10 July 2024

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