It is hard to believe yet another year is already coming to an end with communities, schools and businesses recognising and acknowledging those who have performed and achieved to an extraordinary level. The recent INCITE business awards that were held in front of a packed house was certainly one of the highlights of my year. It was a fantastic evening and was professionally organised with quality speakers in Billy Graham (boxer, mentor and coach) and Dion Nash (ex-Black Cap). It was great to see the worthy recognition of all nominees of awards in our district and to celebrate the success of the winners.
The Otorohanga College prizegiving also recognised many worthy recipients of awards. A special mention must go to the 2014 Dux, Jeneane Malan and two students who without doubt will be looking forward to next year, 2015 head students Rhiannon Magee and Phillip Lord. Congratulations must also be extended to St Peter’s Head Boy for 2015, Liam McKenzie.
Most ratepayers will be aware that the greatest proportion of their rates bill is invested in our roading infrastructure, which is not uncommon for most rural councils. The New Zealand Transport Agency has recently been investigating the subsidy rates for councils across New Zealand to ensure that the funding is fair and equitable for all councils through a rather complex formula. The concern we, and many other councils had, was that our subsidy rate of 52% for maintenance could be decreased as a result of the review. Fortunately for us the rate will actually increase over the next four years to 58%. The implication of this is that we will be able to maintain the current level of service. Because the overall funding pool hasn’t grown, there will be some councils whose funding will decrease, most of these being southern councils without large traffic volumes.
The Otorohanga District Plan became fully operative on October 30. This is a milestone we are very proud of that has come about after many years of hard work by staff and elected members. The level of consultation with the public was extensive and although there were sometimes contrary views on decisions we managed to get there in the end, a positive result because many districts never get their district plans fully operative.
Following the recent tragic events in both Otorohanga and Hamilton I ask that we take care driving on our roads, and at home, ensure that our smoke detectors are all operational so we can all have a summer without further incident.
Ma te wa – bye for now.