Alphabetical order likely to stay

It appears the Waitaki District Council will stick with postal voting and listing candidates in alphabetical order for the council and Oamaru Licensing Trust elections in October.

The council's committee of the whole this week recommended the council use those methods, along with early counting of voting papers during the voting period, consistent with previous local body elections in the area.

Cr Hugh Perkins asked if there had been any research about the effect of the order candidates were listed on the voting papers and votes they received, but council staff could not give any details.

Cr Craig Dawson described the alphabetical listing as ''fair and unbiased'', while some councillors felt because it had been used in the past it should be continued.

The council will make a final decision at its meeting on May 21. People had a chance to comment before then, committee chairman Cr Jim Hopkins said.

Other options of listing candidates were pseudo-random order (drawn at random for all voting papers) or random order (using software to change the order on individual voting papers), which could cost an extra $3200 (excluding GST). A review of the council's involvement in forestry is being carried out to determine how it will manage the 123.8ha it has planted throughout the district.

A ''forestry update'' was given to the committee which placed a value of about $900,000, as at June 30 last year, on the forestry owned by the council.

However, some plantings have been designated as ''amenity value'' rather than commercial - one example is the forest on cape Wanbrow.

The single biggest planting is 26ha on Herbert hill, which has a value of almost $500,000.

Of the plantings, 65.7ha throughout the district has trees 29 years or older, which could be considered mature and due for harvest.

The review will provide information to councillors to consider whether forestry should be continued, reduced or terminated.

- david.bruce@odt.co.nz

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