OPINION: For the next 100 days southlandtimes.co.nz will follow newly elected Invercargill City Councillor Rebecca Amundsen.
She's not an unfamiliar face to people who live in Glengarry, or those who voted for her.
She's a mother, a landlord, a project leader and now a city councillor.
But this isn't just our project, it's yours too.
Get involved by posting comments, asking questions and answering polls each week as we follow Rebecca's first days in office.
Each week Rebecca will also write about her council musings.
Welcome to 2014!
Already it is set to be an interesting year for the council with several things already featuring in the media.
I have been lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks away enjoying sunshine and my family and am well rested and excited about the coming year.
It amazes me though that so many people are not concerned with local government.
Even during the election campaign a common comment was that "council doesn't effect me".
I am keen to encourage people to see the benefits of having a say at local government level.
This is how each of us can have an impact on the place we live in and make it the best possible place to live in.
So to give you an idea of just how the council effects your life here is a day in your life with the council and its activities.
So you get up in the morning and go to the toilet, have a shower and drink a glass of water with your breakfast - council looks after the supply of water to your home so you can flush the toilet and drink clean water and the sewerage treatment facility that ensures when you flush your poo goes away.
It's raining outside - not uncommon in Invercargill - the council looks after the storm water drains which means all the water that runs off the roof of your house gets carried out to sea without flooding your property or your street.
It's the council you call if one of those storm water drains gets blocked and you are not able to clear it your self.
It's rubbish and recycling day so before you head to work you put your bins out.
WasteNet is the part of council that encourages people to use their bins properly and manages the collection.
Next you drive to work along streets that are maintained by the council with street signs and lamps also maintained by council.
Again if a street light is blown in your street it is the council you call.
A contentious issue in Invercargill as we all love to park outside the shop we want to go into and again something that is largely maintained by the council.
They own a number of car parks and employ the parking wardens who make sure we don't overstay our welcome.
For morning tea you pop over to your local coffee shop. A shop that is licensed by the council to make sure they meet the health and safety requirements for operating a food premises.
During your lunch break you visit the library to return some books and check Facebook on their free internet.
Another facility operated by the council. If it wasn't raining perhaps you would have taken a short run around Queens Park one of the councils many parks and reserves.
After work it's time for a beer. Premises selling alcohol are also licensed by the council as are events that sell alcohol.
When you get home from work the sun is finally shining so you decide to eat your dinner in the recently finished conservatory on your house.
A conservatory that required a building consent gained from the council. And the reason the sun shines into your conservatory is because of rules made by the council to ensure people do not exceed boundaries that mean they block their neighbours sun.
You get a call from your neighbour.
They have lost their dog. You suggest they ring the pound to find out if someone has picked it up. Another facility operated by the council.
A friend comes for a visit to invite you to go with them to a show at the Civic Theatre.
A building that has been restored by the council and is operated by them. The council is also where you buy the tickets from.
So that is just a small taste of the many things the council looks after.
Other things include the swimming pool, cemetery, sports fields, resource consents, skate park and other community facilities, they contribute funding to Venture Southland for economic development and tourism, the museum, some events and activities, Vibrant Invercargill, Citizens Advice Bureau and other organisations, through the archives they are storing and preserving our history, they look after the bus service, council housing, the Bluff Service Centre and the list goes on.
In operating all of these things the council has to abide by the Local Government Act.
In order to manage their activities the council has a Long Term Plan and an Annual Plan.
Everything they do must each year must be included in these plans.
As members of the community you are given the opportunity to have your say on these activities through the submission process.
This will be happening in the first half of this year.
I want to encourage people to have a say.
Your say can be to agree with the what the council is doing, disagree with it or suggest other things the council should be doing.
If you have never done this before but would like to please do not hesitate to contact me and I will help in any way I can.
Happy new year everyone.
* If you have a question you want Rebecca to answer email here
- The Southland Times
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