MAYOR: Thank you for your flood relief donations
I want to begin with a heartfelt thank you to the residents of our district that have made donations to help people up north affected by Cyclone Gabrielle as they piece their lives back together.
As at Tuesday this week, our Flood Relief Fund had a total of $11,200 in it and the account will stay open for some time yet if you want to help grow the donations. In these sorts of disasters, cash is the best way to help and donors can specify which region they want their money sent to.
As part of an initiative by Local Government New Zealand, our council has “adopted” Masterton District Council, where some of their rural areas were badly flooded by rain that was part of the cyclone’s wide and destructive path.
The devastating effects of Gabrielle are going to be felt for a long time, and Masterton District has suffered loss and destruction and needs our help. Ashburtonians are renowned for our ability to rally around and support each other in hard times, so I have faith that we will answer the call to help Masterton residents who need it.
Please don't rush out and buy items or clear out something you have at home to donate, as the logistics to transport things to the North Island are far too complicated and costly. Cash is king as it's so easily accessible for the people who need to rebuild their lives.
On the home front, councillors have devoted plenty of time and energy into the Annual Plan for 2023-24 and we are tracking for an average 5.99 per cent rate rise across the district. We’ve deferred some non-critical work in the water space, but added an extra $1 million to the roading budget – overall, this is not a bad result, given inflation is at 7.2 per cent and the rising cost of living is affecting us all.
I also had the pleasure recently of being invited to speak at the official opening ceremony of the Ashburton Methodist parish church on Baring Square East – the church was closed for 13 years after the Christchurch earthquakes and has been strengthened and rebuilt, and is open again for business.
The church is looking fantastic and will blend in nicely with the new library (Te Pātaka o kā Tuhituhi) and civic centre (Te Waharoa a Hine Paaka) and the redeveloped Baring Square East which will be completed later this year.
We look forward to being good neighbours.
The late councillor Rodger Letham had a connection to the church and I am sure his wonderful singing voice is missed, as is his presence around the Council table.
Rodger certainly leaves big shoes to fill and the by-election to fill his seat on the Western Ward is currently under way. Nominations close on Thursday 16 March and a postal vote will be required if there is more than one nomination.
You can find all the details about the nomination and by-election process at voteashburton.nz
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