"We have focused on delivering our core services well and responding to new developments where we need to," says our Mayor Sandra Goudie. "We have identified projects which need a new direction and will be talking to all our Coromandel communities about these as part of our preparations for the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan," she says. The financial year beginning 1 July is the third year of the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan (LTP), and the Annual Plan for this coming year largely follows what was drawn up in that LTP. Development of the 2018-2028 LTP is now underway and we'll be holding public consultations on that early next year. Both the Mercury Bay and Thames ratepayers have an average rates increase closer to 4% due to increased expenditure for locally funded activities that were programmed for this year under the 2015-2025 LTP. These include construction of the Thames Community Recreation Centre, improvements to the Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield in Thames, and the Whitianga Town Centre Upgrade. To get an indication of what your rates for the coming year may be, check our online Rating Information Database. For now, the figure it generates for your property is an estimate until year-end ratings assessments are completed and entered into the database - which we anticipate to have completed around mid-July. We have made one material change from the budget projections for 2017/18 that were in the 2015-2025 LTP. Following a targeted consultation with Mercury Bay residents and ratepayers, our Council approved an additional budget of nearly $716,000 in order to complete Stage Two of the Whitianga Town Centre Upgrade well in advance of the Cook 250 celebrations in 2019. The project is being completed in two stages, rather than three, and will include improvements to Taylor's Mistake and the Esplanade. For more, see www.tcdc.govt.nz/whiticentreupgrade. There are a few other differences in the 2017/18 Annual Plan from what was budgeted in the last LTP; largely because we have taken advantage of opportunities to stretch rates dollars further, but also because conditions have changed and some of the assumptions made in 2015 need to be revisited. For example, given the importance to our communities of clean, healthy drinking water, we're placing a clear priority on making sure we meet drinking water standards across all of our Council-operated water supplies for the health and well-being of our communities. To do this, we've decided to bring forward our drinking water standards upgrades from 2018-2022 to this coming year, requiring capital expenditure of about $2.05M. The rating impact of bringing forward this work is minimal given that depreciation reserves will be used. We're taking advantage of an 85% NZ Transport Agency subsidy to convert our existing street lighting to LED components, which use less energy and last longer than the current lights. We've added nearly $1.4M to local roading budgets across all our Community Boards to do this - money well spent given the contribution from the central government. We're also leveraging external funding to build public toilets at the Hahei entrance car park thanks to a successful application to the government's Tourism Infrastructure Fund. Our Council is putting in $50,000 and receiving a further $130,000 of funding from the government. And, the Coromandel Hall renewals budget has been increased to $250,000 to make the building structurally sound and weathertight. Completion of this work will allow a further $200,000 of funding to be accessed from the Bizarre Trust to pay for a number of functional improvements to the hall. Some things that were planned for the coming year have been deferred for reconsideration under the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan. For example, no major work will be undertaken as part of the Coromandel Harbour project this year in order to pause and assess our direction and the commitments we want to make to the community in this area. The budgets for the Te Kouma Road intersection work (nearly $650,000) and Windy Point improvements ($1M) have been removed from the 2017/18 Annual Plan. These projects were connected to the Sugarloaf Wharf project which is now being led by the Coromandel Marine Farmers Association. The future direction of Coromandel Harbour improvements will be considered in the next Long Term Plan and all our communities will have a chance to be part of the conversation that shapes its direction. "Anyone who wants to - residents, ratepayers, business people, community groups - can take part in helping to shape our next long term plan. It's an important process and a great opportunity for people to have a real influence on the decisions that are made locally - that's local democracy in action," says Mayor Sandra. Download the full 2017/18 Annual Plan. Fees and Charges for 2017/18 There are small changes to existing fees and charges for the coming year. For example, dog registration fees are going up $1 to $71, and building consent fees will rise by 2%. Charges for the hire of the Tairua Library meeting room are dropping for commercial users, from $50 per half day and $100 per full day to $25 and $40. The Coromandel-Colville ward passenger fee for ferries and charter boats remains at $1. There are a number of new fees and charges: Health Licences - $50 fee for copies of food control plans. Refuse Transfer Stations will charge $1 to drop off a small carrier bag of rubbish (remember, there is no charge to drop rubbish in official blue Council bags and recycling). Street trading - $100 annual fee following the Activities in Public Places Bylaw consultation and adoption. Thames Community Recreation Centre - a range of hourly fees for community use of both gymnasiums and the meeting room. Thames Library is introducing charges for the use of its new meeting room and kitchen, plus an optional cleaning charge. Charges range from $15-$40 depending on whether the hirer is a non-profit group or commercial, and the duration of the hire. Road stopping - there will be a fixed initial deposit charge per application of $1,000 with an additional charge to recover actual and reasonable costs for the road stopping process where the costs exceed the fixed charge paid. The full list of our fees charges will be available on our website from 1 July on www.tcdc.govt.nz/fees Waste plan adopted Our Council also adopted the new version of the Eastern Waikato Waste Management and Minimisation Plan. The plan sets out how the three Eastern Waikato Councils (our Council and Hauraki and Matamata-Piako district councils) are working together to manage waste for the benefit of everyone in the community. The original plan dates from 2011 and was written with the input of the community and waste management professionals. In line with the Waste Management Act, it was reviewed earlier this year with community input. Existing services will continue and we'll investigate new ways to divert waste from landfill. Goals include actively promoting waste reduction, working together to maximise opportunities, and managing waste services in the most cost-effective manner. Targets include a 13% reduction in the total quantity of waste sent to landfills by 2020 and a 5% reduction in kerbside waste by 2022. Once Hauraki and Matamata-Piako district councils have adopted the plan later this week it will be available to view on our website at www.tcdc.govt.nz/wmmp.