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Dunedin's elected representatives will hit the books today as they sit down to begin scrutinising the city's budgets for the next financial year.
Mayor Dave Cull and his 14 councillors will gather behind closed doors in Dunedin for a full-day workshop with council staff discussing the council's 2011-12 pre-draft annual plan.
The document seeks to confirm the direction of the council - and the city - for the next financial year, beginning on July 1.
A projected 6.1% rates rise is already looming large in debate about the plan, as is the fate of some capital projects, council services and support funds.
Among the projects up for debate will be whether to delay the $8.6 million fourth stage of the Otago Settlers Museum and to cut back the opening hours of the Dunedin City Library in Moray Pl.
Councillors had their first look at the document before Christmas, but today will have the chance to be briefed by staff and ask questions to help clarify their views.
Tomorrow, the process will move into the public arena, when councillors will scrutinise and debate the merits of individual projects and spending over the course of a two-day hearing.
The councillors will vote to confirm any changes in a draft annual plan at a council meeting scheduled for February 28, before the public has their turn.
The draft document would be released for public consultation from March 12 to April 12, before another round of hearings is held from May 4-6, at which the public can have their say directly.
The plan would then be reconsidered by the council at a meeting on June 7, and the finalised document adopted, and rates set, at a meeting on June 27.