Tauranga is New Zealand’s fastest-growing city.
Even during the global downturn in 2008, Tauranga continued to grow. We expect the same to occur during the current recession.
Growth is not something we can stop – our environment, lifestyle, port and weather are a magnet for people and businesses from all over the country.
In general, growth is good. It creates jobs, increases economic activity, expands opportunities, and can help with funding.
However, growth also creates financial challenges and other problems.
We all know our city suffers from traffic jams. Less visible are the pressures on our water and wastewater systems. We also face a land and housing shortage that is making homes more expensive. This is making it harder for people to buy homes and for workers to move here, holding back our economy.
A big slice of our budget is spent on new infrastructure to help manage these problems. We must also renew and maintain the infrastructure we already have. About 65% of our capital budget and 40% of our operating budget is spent on water, wastewater, stormwater and roads.
We also need to invest in projects that will improve our city’s resilience to natural hazards and climate change effects. One result of this combination of rapid growth and under-funding is that Tauranga lacks the ‘soul’ of similar-sized cities.
Our challenges are complex and have been getting worse for a long time. We will need to work with our community and central government to find a solution.