Strength lies in working together
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.