Bells but no whistles for draft Annual Plan

Palmerston North's rates-setting draft Annual Plan is about to be launched, with bells but without the whistles.

The first version of the city council's draft plan, which proposes an overall 4.3 per cent rates rise next year, was illustrated with a photograph from last year's Christmas parade of "Daisy's Bikes".

The problem was, Cr Chris Teo-Sherrell said, that in the black and white photo, it looked as if a young woman on a tandem had a cigarette in her mouth. In fact, she had a party whistle between her teeth.

The whistle has been edited out to remove any ambiguity in the updated version soon to go to print.

The council adopted the draft plan yesterday, incorporating changes it proposed earlier and others recommended by Audit New Zealand.

A last-minute change acknow ledged the council was planning a deficit of $208,000 at the end of the 2014-15 year, but resolved the amount was "prudent".

Finance strategy manager Steve Paterson said there would be a cash flow surplus. The deficit related to a shortfall in what was being allowed for depreciation to help pay for renewal of capital assets in future.

Three councillors opposed banking on the shortfall at all, but Mayor Jono Naylor said he would not support taking money off ratepayers that the council had no intention of spending in the coming year.

Some of the features of the draft plan include $2.9 million for a filter to remove more phosphorus from the city's wastewater discharge, seeding money for Broad way Ave improvements, and a signal that fluoridation is up for debate.

Submissions will be received between March 21 and April 22, with a series of public meetings scheduled for April 1 to April 9.

Hearings will be held in May.

Manawatu Standard