CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Feeling positive about the coming summer

Published: 15 December 2022

The end of the calendar year always provides a chance to look back and reflect and 2022 is no different – it was a year that started with a degree of frustration in some parts of the community but will end on a generally more positive note.

This time in 2021 we were preparing for the impact of Omicron in our community, a number of people were frustrated about Government mandates around vaccination and the impact on access to facilities and events. We masked up before venturing out.

Now we are learning how to live with covid and people are keen to gather again as a community, though we are facing new challenges, like the rising cost of groceries and interest rates, and another wave of the coronavirus.

The greenshoots of positivity can be seen as we come to work every day, by visitors to our district and in our work at council, which provides a platform of essential services that we all need – like drinking water, a sewer network and roads.

We are also thinking at council about our future needs, like the second bridge for Ashburton and an economic development strategy that will help keep us on course as a growing and vital district. Government is also planning to have a say in our future, with major reforms of Three Waters, the RMA and an examination of the system of local government itself.

Add a General Election into the mix next year and legislative fireworks may ensue.

If you think that sounds like a lot of planning, you are right.

Council’s financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June, but staff are already putting together information for Councillors to consider early next year when they begin setting the budget for the Annual Plan, and ultimately setting the amount of rates money that will be needed to do the work approved.

In this current year, Council decided to draw $1.7 million from a reserve account (thanks to forestry) to do more roading repair work and I am pleased to report the money is being well spent. I met with our roading contractors recently to talk about problems and progress, and how to ensure Council money was being spent wisely, given the dollars available and the crews and machinery at the contractor’s disposal.

We can feel positive about the amount of work under way on our roading network now that we are in summer, and our contractors will be flat out in the next few months. Councillors will get a full briefing from the contractors on progress in February and the community will also be able to listen in on that meeting via our meeting livestream.

Another busy team is Open Spaces, whose members are covering plenty of ground and grass in their new wider mowers. Pick a park and go for a picnic over the summer holidays and you will see what they’ve been up to.

One New Year’s wish I’ve got is for a speedy and smooth construction of Methven’s new water treatment plant. Earthworks have begun and we are pushing hard for the building to be complete and the new membrane treatment equipment working before the end of June next year.

That would be cause for a good mid-winter Christmas celebration for all!

I wish you all festive best wishes for now though, and hope you have happy and safe holidays.

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