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ORC Chair Emphasises That No Decisions Have Yet Been Made On The Annual Plan For 2020-2021

Otago Regional Council Chairperson Marian Hobbs is emphasising that the council’s Annual Plan is a proposal only – a proposal that was finalised several weeks prior to the current COVID-19 alert level status.

Chairperson Hobbs is making the following statement:

“Circumstances changed drastically in the fortnight between the plan being approved for community feedback and the period for community feedback opening. I want to strongly emphasise that no decisions have been made – we need the community to have their say to guide our decision-making on our plan for the coming year.

Many other councils around the country are in the same position that we find ourselves in: consulting on a proposed rates increase during this tumultuous period. Some have convened emergency meetings and made last-minute alterations to their plans to avoid rate increases. This was not a possibility for the ORC in the timeframe between when we approved the Annual Plan for community engagement at our last meeting on 11 March and when we needed to open our plan up for community feedback to be sure that we could meet statutory timeframes.

In some respects, this timing has been unfortunate. However, in another sense, it now enables our Annual Plan to be adjusted through the normal process. In finalising our work program and how it is funded, we will take on-board the feedback of the community.

Without hearing from the community, we cannot presume what people want. We are learning daily a new way of living and what is important. So we are asking all Otago residents to consider taking the time to have their say. For us as Councillors, the challenge will be finding a way forward that does the right thing by our community and the environment, and to guide us as we navigate this challenge, we need to know your thoughts on what we should do, what we shouldn’t do, and how we should fund our work.”

The public are encouraged to have their say through ORC’s online community feedback platform, YourSay: https://yoursay.orc.govt.nz/annualplan

This page includes a rates estimator so people can get an idea of what their rates will be, as well as a summary of the activities ORC hopes to carry out and a space for people to ask questions and submit their feedback.

Feedback can be given on the proposed Annual Plan from now until 24 April, after which there will be hearings so people can speak to their submissions, should they wish. ORC is looking at how this will be done, depending on the nationwide alert status, and will provide more information at that time.

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