Changes to annual plan consultation likely

How and if the public will be formally consulted on the annual plan will not be decided by the council until late next month.

Yesterday, options for an alternative public engagement process for the public to voice their opinions on the 2017-18 draft annual plan were discussed the Dunedin City Council annual plan meeting.

Under new legislation, the council is not required to consult the public on changes to the budget which are not significant or material.

Council corporate services group manager Sandy Graham said the 2017-18 plan was a ''business as usual budget''.

A special consultative procedure, including formal submission hearings, was not likely to happen.

However, staff were working on a creative and less formal plan to engage the public on the coming budget.

The engagement process could include informing the public about proposed funding decisions through media such as advertising and Twitter to which they could respond by tweeting back or attending casual drop-in style meetings, councillors heard.

A detailed breakdown of how the public engagement process was expected to work would be presented to the council at a meeting on February 21, Ms Graham said.

It was intended the engagement plan would provide councillors with as many opportunities to engage with the community as they wanted, she said.

Cr Christine Garey said she believed the community would respond ''really really well'' to the opportunity to voice their opinion on the councils decisions on different platforms.

Cr Rachel Elder said a less formal process would also provide a better opportunity to engage with communities who would not attend formal submission hearings.

Although concrete details about platforms and methods of engagement had not been decided, Cr Aaron Hawkins supported a move to fresh approach.

''I certainly welcome more innovative approaches to engaging the public than standing in a supermarket foyer to the bemusement of the post-work shopper,'' he said.

A hearings process could still be retained in a community engagement plan, Ms Graham said.

margot.taylor@odt.co.nz

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