Draft plan agreed; open for comment

An overall rates rise of 1.8% has been approved by the Waitaki District Council in its draft 2010-11 annual plan, which will now go out for public comment.

Yesterday, the council formally adopted its annual plan and budget for the next financial year and will call for public submissions, opening on March 23 and closing on April 23.

It will also conduct public meetings in Oamaru, Palmerston, Five Forks and Otematata to outline the plan and get feedback.

Yesterday, approving the draft plan only took 10 minutes, councillors having already hammered out the detail at two closed-session workshops last month, and a public council meeting on February 24.

The main concern of councillors yesterday was making sure the annual plan could be read and understood.

Ratepayers will get individual letters from the council at the end of this month which will detail how the plan will affect the rates they pay.

The council will consider the public submissions in May and debate the plan at a council meeting on May 19.

It has to make a final decision before July.

• People are being urged to get involved in the debate over whether four public toilets in Oamaru should be closed by the council.

The council is proposing in its draft annual plan to close the public toilets in lower Thames St (next to The Last Post), Severn St, the main toilets in the Oamaru gardens (next to the works yard) and Awamoa Park to save almost $50,000 in maintenance a year.

However, that has caused controversy, with some ratepayers and travellers urging the council to keep all or some of them open.

Waitaki deputy mayor Gary Kircher this week urged people to make submissions, which open on March 23, on the council's draft 2010-11 annual plan which proposed to close the toilets.

"We do have a lot of toilets in the Oamaru central business area, but if the four sets are closed, there will be none open at night except for the one in the gardens' playground.

"I don't think this is good enough and if others think the same, they need to make submissions," he said.

Closure of some toilets will have less impact than others.

The toilets in the Opera House, Library and Aquatic Centre were also public toilets, available when those facilities were open.

However, signs were needed to tell people that.


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