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Message from the Mayor and Chief Executive
The 2011/2012 year has been a significant year of change and realignment for the Council. This has resulted in some solid achievements in resetting the organisation’s financial baseline.
In the 2011 financial year the average rate on the Coromandel decreased by 1% and in the 2012 financial year (from 1 July 2012), the Council has locked in an average decrease of over 5%.
To achieve these impressive results we have been through a structural change, which although painful it is now largely completed. The forward budgets have been recast without under-investing in infrastructure or services, and now the task of delivery begins in earnest to see the benefits of the new model succeed.
In 2011/2012 our communities have had some unexpected and difficult challenges to deal with, such as the Rena clean up and the discovery of contamination at Moanataiari. There are many good stories too - such as the official opening of the Hauraki Rail Trail, and the refocusing of Tourism Coromandel, now Destination Coromandel.
We elaborate on several of these stories throughout this annual report. This report presents details about our organisational performance from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012. It predominantly reports progress made during the year towards achieving our levels of service and financial targets that were outlined in the 2009-2019 Ten Year Plan and 2011/2012 Annual Plan.
Significant projects undertaken this year have included:
2012-2022 Ten Year Plan: The complexity of this Plan was enormous, as the Council wrestled with the impacts of a long and deepening recession. Similar to frequent national and international news broadcasts, even this Council has had to adopt the structural change and expenditure reductions to respond on behalf of the community and its businesses to recession. The impact was a reduction of some $37m in operational expenditure, and over $63m in capital expenditure compared to the last Ten Year Plan.
District Plan: The District Plan development led by the District Plan Review Committee and supported by staff has moved steadily toward its first major milestone - the releasing of a ‘first cut’ draft in October 2012. In recent months the Committee established a Plan User Group who has endorsed the Plan as an ‘easy to use’ document and an improvement on the previous Plan.
Aquaculture: The Council has arrived at a position of potential partnership with the aquaculture industry in the provision of enhanced wharfing infrastructure to facilitate future growth in Coromandel. We have made available some $2.1m in our 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan and additional provision for consenting, on the understanding that the money be recovered from industry.
Economic Development: Economic Development remains a high priority for this Council. We held a Council workshop in July 2012 to discuss the areas of focus for the Economic Development strategy. Major themes discussed included improving transport corridors from Auckland and Hamilton to the Coromandel, the need to improve our account management of business-related transactions and reducing compliance and regulation burden on businesses. Our staff will now work to develop a draft strategy for wider-consultation with the community and in-particular with the business sector.
Coromandel Walkway: The Coromandel Walkway is a project about creating a world-class multi-day walk that links strongly with towns and communities on the Coromandel to drive economic development through tourism. This is a new project and will be the District priority in the years ahead. Watch this space for further details of this exciting project.
Moanataiari Subdivision: Land Contamination: In October and November 2011, the Waikato Regional Council conducted soil tests at the Moanataiari subdivision in Thames, which is reclaimed land. The results from the tests indicated that there are elevated levels of arsenic in the soil. Since that time, elevated levels of lead have also been discovered and it has been a high priority of the Council to respond to these issues. This has been a big and complex project for all involved. Continuous updates have been and will continue to be available on our website.
Hauraki Rail Trail: The official opening of the Hauraki Rail Trail in May 2012 is a success which we should all be proud of. This project has been three years in the making, and has been a priority project in the 2011/2012 year requiring a great investment of time from both staff and Council. The final leg of the Rail Trail between Kopu and Thames was opened in early September 2012.
Working with Others
Hauraki Treaty Settlement - Co-governance Arrangements: Meetings have been held with Iwi negotiators and Crown officials to continue discussions on emerging co-governance structures for the Waihou and Piako catchments as well as the Coromandel Peninsula. Thames Valley Councils and the Regional Council staff will be meeting soon to discuss our continuing input into the development of these structures.
Destination Coromandel: A significant work stream throughout 2011 and 2012 was refocusing Tourism Coromandel. A new organisation was established in November 2011, called Destination Coromandel. It has a new mandate to focus on destination marketing. The Trustees of Destination Coromandel have continued to work very closely with the staff of the Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) to transition the new organisation into a new structure.
Governance & Structure
Community Governance: A priority of this Council has been to ensure greater engagement of local communities in decision making.
In April 2012 a Community Empowerment framework was adopted by the Council. At the core of this framework is greater decision making at the local level. Practically, this means that the Community Boards will make governance decisions relating to their local activities. Over the course of the next year we will be making some changes to align the organisation better to that framework. A number of these changes will be presented in further detail in our 2013/2014 Annual Plan.
Organisational Change: Following the release of the organisational review decision document to staff on 30 March 2012, implementation of the organisation change occurred during the fourth quarter. Some of the key changes during this quarter were that three Area Managers were appointed and officially started their new roles on 1 July 2012, and the creation of Community Development Officer roles. This has been a significant change for the organisation, and the staff are to be commended for keeping the wheels turning whilst going through this process. This new structure better enables us to deliver our objectives, and be more fit-for-purpose for the challenges and work ahead.
Whilst this annual report looks back, we are looking forward to an exciting year ahead - delivering the first year of our 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan. You can be assured that we are looking to maintain our strong leadership role and customer focus - both of which we know are critical in these challenging economic times.