Changed budget context to be mulled online

Leanne Macdonald
Leanne Macdonald
Community board meetings are back as of next week in Central Otago, but representatives will not be sitting around a table.

Proposed rates rises will be high on the agenda as the four Central Otago District Council boards meet virtually to fulfil distancing obligations under Covid-19 restrictions.

The boards will meet to approve budgets for inclusion in the Annual Plan 2020-21 process, ahead of a full council meeting on May 18 to consider public submissions.

As a result of the pandemic and its economic impact on ratepayers, the council executive committee directed staff to consider revised figures relating to the proposed plan.

That, plus consideration of submissions from the community during the consultation period, led to revised figures to be presented to community boards, starting with the Cromwell Community Board on Monday, then the others in the following days.

District council corporate services executive manager Leanne Macdonald said staff had sought alternative funding without affecting the proposed programme of work for the 2020-21 year, "recognising the importance of that work in district recovery and well-being".

Chief executive Sanchia Jacobs said the proposed annual plan was reflective of increased costs and not new expenditure but the impact of Covid-19 meant revising budgets was "a must".

Given Covid-19 restrictions, the meetings would be held remotely via video streaming.

Mayor Tim Cadogan said the boards and council had practised using video streaming for meetings and while nothing could replace the benefits of face-to-face meetings "safety and adherence to the national Covid-19 alert level guidelines requires this approach".

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