WHAT'S ON IN COUNCIL THIS WEEK - OK , committee week again, and some mildly interesting agenda items, but truth is the main action comes Thursday. Finance committee meets 9am but most of the official business on their agenda is the regular rate remission requests, financial and audit reports, housekeeping stuff, nothing to buzz about — so we’re aiming to finish that pretty early so we can get on with trying to fix up those rating aberrations, mainly caused by unexpected effects of our changes to three rating lines; rural fires, pests and plants, and soil conservation.
None of them have much effect on the basic city residential rates, so for most readers they’re not a big issue. But for some of those affected, mainly large land-holders close to the city, they’re a real problem. I’m confident we can fix them up, though we won’t please everybody — those who have got rate rises will still have rate rises, they just won’t be so outrageous. And those who are keeping their heads well down because they had reductions will still have those reductions, though there might be a re-adjustment next time round.
As I’ve said before, this is mostly a rural issue, doesn’t really affect city residential. Anyway, unlike central government, we recognise that we don’t have a mortgage on all the good ideas, so we’ve invited Fed Farmers and the public to a session to explore ways to overcome the problem. Not sure what time, sometime after the committee finishes — it’ll be advertised if you’re interested.
Community development committee Wednesday morning features the Tourism Eastland annual report, and a presentation from Te Puni Kokiri, plus the regular activity reports from staff. Also a paper on the New Year town clock stuff, tidying up decisions we made earlier about concentrating on demographic groups not involved with Rhythm and Vines; meaning families and young people, basically.
Environment and policy in the afternoon gets a presentation from Dr Terence Loomis about water plan concerns, and also has a look at how we give effect to bits in the Ngati Porou settlement, which has implications for our RMA responsibilities. Also Manu Caddie has put up a paper suggesting we get a bit more active on our statutory obligations to help Maori develop their capacity to participate in the decision-making process, especially RMA stuff. No, that’s not quite right — we do have a statutory obligation to upskill Maori in those processes, Manu is sensibly suggesting we ought to look for ways to upskill everybody with an interest.
Hmm, I don’t completely disagree with that notion but I’m not interested in spending ratepayers’ money on sending people off to courses, as some councils do. Seems to me we could do it for free locally. Manu himself is a qualified Resource Management Act commissioner (merit pass, no less, not as dumb as he looks, eh?); I’m qualified, well experienced, plus I have some experience in education — between us we could probably teach a thing or two. I’d volunteer Alan Davidson, chair of our hearings committee too, he’s a natural-born talker, but he’d probably kill me for suggesting it.
Hmm, we — meaning councillors — probably ought to think about holding a few evening sessions for interested members of the public, not just on RMA matters but also on rates, things prospective candidates at next year’s election ought to know, that sort of stuff. Might be fun.