Strength lies in work­ing to­gether

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - TONY LEP­PER

As I com­plete my sec­ond term as Cen­tral Otago Mayor it is nice to re­flect on what we have achieved as a team.

We started this term with six new coun­cil­lors and a lot of hard work was re­quired on ev­ery­one’s part, bring­ing them up to speed on the is­sues they would be re­quired to grap­ple with. As we were com­plet­ing this process, we had to find a new chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and many things were put on hold while we filled this va­cancy.

I have al­ways be­lieved the strength of Cen­tral Otago will only be achieved when we work to­gether as a re­gion. Our com­mu­ni­ties are too small to achieve truly great things if they work in iso­la­tion. They must use the col­lec­tive ‘‘wealth’’ of the whole to cre­ate sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties. Cen­tral Otago is not just Cromwell and Alexan­dra.

The smaller com­mu­ni­ties like Clyde, St Bathans, Ophir, Naseby, Omakau and Roxburgh are in­stantly recog­nis­able to the rest of New Zealand, and with­out them the ap­peal of Cen­tral Otago and the pulling power of our larger towns would di­min­ish.

Cromwell is go­ing through a pe­riod of sus­tained growth and much of its ap­peal to peo­ple and busi­nesses is its cen­tral lo­ca­tion and the op­por­tu­ni­ties this cre­ates. Cromwell also ap­peals for the abun­dance of life­style op­por­tu­ni­ties gen­er­ated by be­ing part of Cen­tral Otago and its her­itage, cul­ture and out­door op­por­tu­ni­ties.

In this term we have made gi­ant steps to­ward bring­ing fair­ness and eq­uity to the broader com­mu­nity for the bet­ter­ment of the re­gion as a whole. This is a piv­otal, game-chang­ing year as our rates pol­icy now re­flects the dis­trict-wide ap­proach to fund­ing our op­er­a­tions. This has caused some con­ster­na­tion to ratepay­ers as ad­just­ments both up and down have oc­curred and I con­grat­u­late our coun­cil for be­ing brave enough to do this in elec­tion year. My dream is if coun­cil an­nounces a per­cent­age in­crease in rates then that in­crease will be the one all ratepay­ers will re­ceive. With these changes that dream is al­most a re­al­ity, as vari­a­tions will only be caused by changes to val­u­a­tions and some minor fluc­tu­a­tions cre­ated by com­mu­nity board ex­pen­di­ture.

I am pleased six of the ex­ist­ing coun­cil­lors have been re­turned and there is a pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing eight of the ex­ist­ing team back. There is a wide cross­sec­tion of think­ing around the coun­cil ta­ble and this has en­abled us to go for­ward with de­ci­sions that re­flect this di­ver­sity of opin­ion. Sus­tain­able de­ci­sion mak­ing is only pos­si­ble if di­ver­sity is taken into con­sid­er­a­tion.

I look for­ward to tak­ing on the chal­lenges that are ex­pected of the mayor. I will do that in my straight-for­ward, no-non­sense style, through the con­tacts and re­la­tion­ships I have worked hard to es­tab­lish in my pre­vi­ous two terms as mayor.

Tony Lep­per has served two terms as Cen­tral Otago Mayor and hopes to return for a third.

Tony Lep­per is com­plet­ing his sec­ond term as Cen­tral Otago Mayor.

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