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Business As Usual For Councillors, But From A Distance

Since Alert Level 4 commenced, Councillors and staff have been getting on with business, while adapting to a new way of connecting.

District Mayor Neil Volzke says the last couple of weeks of video conferencing with his peers and council officers has been a real learning curve for all, but something we’ve adapted to quickly. “Everyone has been very accommodating and while it’s not as good as being physically present in the same room, Councillors haven’t let it hinder their commitment to the community.”

Earlier this week was the first time a Council committee meeting was carried out from the comfort of Councillors’ own homes.

The Policy & Services Committee met virtually to consider submissions to the Waste Water and Solid Waste Bylaws, including hearing from one of the submitters via video conference. With a couple of requested tweaks both these bylaws were adopted with a commencement date of 1 June 2020.

Following this, the Ordinary meeting of Council was held, and through the power of technology Councillors deliberated and adopted the draft Annual Plan for community feedback, agreed on the location of the new swimming pool, and signed off the establishment of a new Council Farm and Aerodrome Committee. More on these below.

Mayor Volzke says, “It’s a challenging time for our community and while council-related matters probably aren't at the top of their priority list, we want to ensure people can still connect with us and with Council on what matters most to them.”

“We’ve committed to sharing the unconfirmed minutes of our committee meetings held via video conference as soon as practical following the meeting. This is to ensure our community can stay up to date with the decisions we are making for them.”

The unconfirmed minutes will be on our website in the next week at stratford.govt.nz/council/documents-publications/agendas-minutes and we will continue to share updates on these matters via Council’s Facebook page and the Central Link pages in the Stratford Press.

Feedback on the draft Annual Plan

Councillors have carefully reviewed the 2019/20 Annual Plan. In light of the current challenges caused by COVID-19, they have considered expenditure reductions that won’t add further pain to the local economy or negatively impact the services provided. This has resulted in a reduction of the proposed overall rates increase for 2019/20 from 5.79% to 4.3%. Council had already made savings in other areas to offset a number of unforeseen costs, which would have further increased rates, had they not been identified early.

In order to make these additional savings, Mayor Volzke says, “We identified internal savings around staff training, interest on loans and other items that have little direct impact on the community and the services council provides.”

“It was important that we don’t pull back on our intended infrastructure work, as this would be counterproductive in the long term.”

Due to the current COVID-19 response measures in place for New Zealand, a full copy of the draft plan is only available on our website, www.stratford.govt.nz, or by email on request.

If you have any questions on the proposed draft Annual Plan 2020/21, or would like to provide your feedback, please get in touch!

Your feedback will be considered by Councillors at the Policy and Services Committee meeting on 26 May 2020.

Community feedback is open until 14 May 2020.

You can email this to feedback@stratford.govt.nz, write to Stratford District Council Annual Plan Feedback, PO Box 320, Stratford 4352 or speak with our Director Corporate Services by phoning 06 765 6099.

Project update: New swimming pool location

A decision on the location of the new build of the swimming pool was made to enable the project to move forward, so that detailed designs can be completed. Councillors agreed on the option of co-locating the pool with the existing TET MultiSports Centre on Portia Street.

While the cost of this option is higher than the three other options put forward, the operational benefits and synergies that will come from this co-location make it a better long term location for the community.

The decision to build a new pool was made as part of the 2018 – 2028 Long Term Plan following extensive consultation through community meetings, surveys, and events such as the Stratford A&P Show. There have also been ongoing discussions with key stakeholder groups such as netball during this process to look at possible relocation options, and these will continue as plans are developed further.

Council Farm and Aerodrome Committee

This new committee of council will provide governance for the vision of our Council farm and the aerodrome. The Committee is chaired by Councillor Boyde and the committee members will be a combination of councillors and staff, with voting rights being restricted to councillors. The elected members on the committee are Councillor Jones and Councillor Dalziel.

Stay connected

If you need to talk to us we are still available. Please get in touch by calling us on 06 765 6099, or emailing us at: stratforddc@stratford.govt.nz

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