Annual Plan community forums, held in Oamaru, Otematata and Palmerston, have proved to be a popular way for the public to discuss issues with the mayor and councillors.
The decision to hold these forums in the community, rather than formal hearings in the Council Chamber, was to encourage people that would otherwise not engage with Council, and to discuss important issues that impact on what plans are made for the next 12 months.
The informality of people sitting around a table having a discussion about issues that are important to them has worked well. We wanted to trial this type of engagement to see what sort of response we would get and the results have been very positive, with numerous participants giving enthusiastic support for the concept.
The forums have seen people discussing a wide range of issues including infrastructure, tourism, how we can grow our district, and how we can meet the needs of our elderly folk.
The public consultation period has now closed and all the feedback we've received will be considered and discussed by staff and Council over the next few weeks, including what impact any proposed projects will have on rates. At this stage we are still predicting a 1% rates increase.
Following the discussions and debate, Council will adopt the 2017/18 Annual Plan on Wednesday 21 June and will come into effect on 1 July.