From the Mayor

Mayor craig primary 1

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks talking to residents about all sorts of things. Face to face conversations are the best way to approach most things – whether it’s issues about road maintenance, or missing signs, or supporting local touch rugby games or big picture projects. I always said I’d front up when needed and I firmly believe that spending the time talking means a better result for everyone. You can cover all sides of an issue and even if people don’t go away happy, they hopefully go away heard and with more understanding on both sides.

Conversations and Council work are both two way streets - both sides must be willing to listen as well as speak. Our small district has a big list of work that needs to be done and an even bigger list of work people want done. We’re also looking at our third significant rates increase in three years. To me what that means is that work has to be done in the right order. We have to chip away at the lists of needs and wants as quickly, affordably and sensibly as possible.

From my recent conversations I’ve gone back to council staff with a few suggestions for change and work but I’ve also agreed with resident’s other ways to solve problems, including simple common sense or people pitching in to help.

When tackling our big to do list Council must make the most of outside funding and plan for the future. Over the next two to three years that means Council will finish off our rebuild works and the review currently underway into how to work smarter and more affordably for our community. We’ll spend the provincial growth fund grant on developing Wakatu Quay and a business case for the development of the South Bay Harbour. We’ll continue making our drinking water systems stronger and safer, and spend time listening to our community and developing plans for the next 10 years work and services for our district.

Over the next decade or so Kaikōura will grow. That growth will bring more ratepayers to share the rates burden. The recent PGF grant is a big part of that growth. The government allocated three billion dollars over a three-year term to invest in regional economic development, improve jobs, wages, and opportunities. That rules out projects that aren’t likely to generate commercial return or drive growth.

Kaikōura was lucky to be gifted nearly $11million – nearly $10million to help add different commercial, retail and hospitality opportunities for investment and work to the economy by developing Wakatu Quay and around $1million to develop a business case around our harbour. For Wakatu Quay the frame of hospitality, commercial and retail is set but there are no detailed plans at this point. This project is something we will be doing with our community – not to our community. We will be engaging with stakeholders to develop the initial ideas and throughout the project.

The harbour funding is purely a case study but has the potential to open the door for more funding and growth.

A rates review will be planned at some point over the next three years to make sure we’re using this growth and Council policy to spread the costs of rates as fairly as possible across our property owners. A reminder here though – a rates review isn’t about reducing the overall rates cost but about the spread of that cost.

Coming back to our to do list- all the above means some of the other ‘wants’ will have to wait a few years or our residents will have to lead the work themselves.

To close, please remember there’s a total fire ban in place and things are really really dry out there. Permits no longer apply, follow the rules, light no fires and report any fire activity to 111.

The last thing anybody needs is to add fire recovery work to the list of things to do.

Till next time,

Craig

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January 13 2020