Same passion and enthusiasm, different times

To the residents and ratepayers of West Otago, we know there is a lot of unease in our community regarding the rates increase this year.

As always, we both act with integrity and honesty and are trustworthy.

The vast majority of people in our ward know this because they know us.

We are approachable and are able to source correct information to any questions you may have.

We as councillors take an oath to act faithfully and impartially, and to abide by the law and certain acts of government, we meet with an open mind and no predetermination.

We as a council are just coming to the conclusion of the Long Term Plan (LTP) process.

The easiest way to describe the LTP is as a forecast budget that goes out 10 years.

It is a combination of our infrastructure strategy and financial strategy and embraces the long-term hopes, dreams and expectations of our community, and then we see what that is all going to cost.

The consultation period was open for a month and we had over 660 submissions. When it closed we had three verbal submissions hearings where over 70 individuals and organisations spoke to their submissions.

We also had a large number of written submissions that all councillors have read.

As we write this we have just finished three days of deliberations and decisions. As a result we are forecasting an average rates increase across the whole district for next year of 14%, and it works out to be 12% for Tapanui.

We must stress that these are only average examples and each particular property may vary.

While this is not a great situation it is a massive effort to get to that figure from where our starting point was, and you will see in the media that every council is facing similar problems. We would like to thank all the people who took the time to get involved in the correct process and submit..

Please remember that for a long time we were able to hold our rates at or below a 4% increase per year.

We have not changed, but the regulatory and consenting environment we work in has.

We would like to thank the large number of people who make our community in West Otago (WO) such a wonderful place to live, to all the sports clubs, community groups and organisations that volunteer their time and do their bit to make this a positive community, well done.

We have a particular interest in a number of groups and facilities in West Otago run by a lot of great people, all the halls and community centres, reserves and domains, Heriot tennis court upgrade committee, Bushyhill St playground committee, WO Vintage Club, WO Swimming Pool management committee, WO Health Trust and WO Health Company, a special thanks to all of you and we enjoy the reciprocal and supportive relationship we have with you.

Lastly, a big pat on the back to Barbara Hanna and the majority of the WO Community Board — you should be very proud of your achievements and the support you give this community.

By Clutha District West Otago ward councillors Michele Kennedy and John Herbert