Stratford voters have a choice of three candidates for mayor this year. Over the next few weeks, the three candidates, Rawinia Henderson, Graham Kelly and Neil Volzke, will answer a range of questions set by the Stratford Press editorial team. Their answers will run online and in print.
To hear the candidates speak and answer more questions, come along to the Newstalk ZB and Stratford Press Meet the Candidates evening on September 18 at the Stratford War Memorial Centre at 6.30pm.
This week, we asked the three candidates the following questions:
1. All councils must make choices on what to fund, and what not to fund. What are your priorities for council to fund and why?
2. What do you foresee as being the biggest challenge facing Stratford in the coming three years? How would you address it?
1. Did not answer this question.
2. Water supply vs demand versus cost. Depletion of our natural resource (water restrictions over the summer periods), pollution and contamination, limited town water holding tanks, increased cost to ratepayers from water meters.
I intend to honour the decisions made before me regarding subdivisions but this is not something I would be supporting for future projects. I believe the cost is higher than the value.
1. Our longterm plan dictates what we should fund, now and in the future. What we do is consult with the public (ratepayer) and put in motion what they and ourselves think is important to the well being of our district.
2. Water and refuse are not only our biggest challenge but the world's.
So we have to be wiser and smarter. We should be looking at Stratford needs in 50 years and put into practice now what will be needed to survive.
Amalgamation is not on my agenda.
1. Council must meet its obligations under the Local Government Act and the delivery of core services and maintaining existing assets are my first priority for funding.
Roads, water, sewerage, rubbish, parks, sports facilities, cemetery, library, swimming pool, regulatory services are examples of council activities that must be funded. Together these consume around 90 per cent of the available funds and the discretionary spend becomes relatively small.
New projects and one-off costs are more open to individual choice and different funding mechanisms.
The act includes the four wellbeings: environmental, economic, social and cultural wellbeing. All council's activities should fall into one of these categories.
In principle, I support initiatives and projects that fulfil the wellbeings and where there is a broad, evidence based benefit for as many people as possible.
The community opinion is an essential part in the decision making process and should strongly influence whether council funds specific projects.
I will continue to engage to help understand your needs and for me, the decision whether to fund or not then becomes about cost, affordability and benefit gained.
2. Drinking water supply is becoming more and more of an issue, exacerbated by climate change and more frequent prolonged dry spells.
Finding new water supply sources and increasing storage capacity will help, but they are difficult and expensive solutions.
My preference is for conservation and better use of the water we have available now, because it's a more achievable and a less expensive option.
Water meters are a tool that can help reduce water usage. Where they have been introduced in other districts the outcome has been a reduction in water consumption of around 25 per cent. If this was achieved in our district, it would significantly delay the need for further capital expenditure to expand the water treatment plant and storage capacity.
The search for additional sources of water could also avoided which combined, would be a major cost saving and have very positive environmental benefits as well.
About a quarter of Stratford's existing consumers already have meters.
While metering is not the only conservation tool available, it is a very successful and readily available way of managing this precious resource.