The annual plan process – like any other community engagement the council carries out – is one that requires a careful balancing act on council's behalf, listening to what the community needs and expects and balancing this with keeping rates affordable.
Councillors and staff have worked hard to make sure the work programme in the final annual plan for the 2014/15 year strikes the right balance for the coming year, prioritising the maintenance of quality, core infrastructure and services as well as delivering rates affordability.
I have every confidence that the work programme we have locked into the 2014/15 annual plan is one that will make a lasting contribution to the greater good of the district.
We received 74 submissions to the draft annual plan this year which interestingly is very consistent with the number of submissions put forward for the previous four annual plans.
It is great to see people making the effort with putting forward a submission and I would like to thank those who took the time to do this.
Your ideas and suggestions give the council good insights about what you are looking for and expect from us.
We are always keen to hear from people when we ask for feedback on issues affecting the whole community.
If you did not make a submission to council for this round of public consultation, we will be asking for your feedback on a range of other important topics in the coming months so do take the chance to have your say.
Of the 74 submissions made to this year's draft annual plan, 24 were presented by residents in person to help support their submissions.
I have to say I certainly enjoy this face-to-face stage of community engagement. I appreciate that the thought of presenting in front of councillors might initially seem a bit daunting to some people but we welcome your participation and the chance to talk to you first-hand about your submission.
We received submissions on a range of issues and rates affordability and social services agency requests for additional funding were common themes among the 74 submissions.
The dominant issue though was around council's investment in roading, with many submitters looking for council to increase this area of spending.
More specifically, people asked that council continue to look to increase funding the New Zealand Transport Agency provides to council for road maintenance and improvement.
Council has again budgeted for an increase in spending on our roads.
We are also making changes to the way we undertake work in our roading activity.
This month we are bringing the management of contractors in-house – which we believe will help enable council staff to manage day-to-day contract arrangements more effectively and keep a closer eye on what is being done around the district.
Once again, thank you to those people who made submissions to the annual plan – your feedback is important and we look forward to receiving your submissions again in the near future.