The perennial hot topic of rates features in submissions to Whanganui District Council's annual plan, with added concern this year as people struggle financially due to the impact of Covid-19.

The council has received 62 submissions on its annual plan consultation document, with 22 submitters to present their views at a hearing on Wednesday.

Some submitters have requested a nil rates increase and a freeze on spending, with some suggesting pay cuts for councillors and higher paid staff. However, there are also a number of submissions requesting the council pay a living wage to lower paid staff.

Along with rates, the council's proposal to spend $140,000 to further its climate change strategy drew a number of submissions - for and against. Some submitters questioned why the council is proposing an additional sealed runway at Whanganui Airport when it is concerned about the impact of climate change.

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Former district councillor David Bennett wants the council to sell its gas network company GasNet "while we can" as natural gas supplies dwindle, and to sell its pensioner housing stock to a charitable housing trust.

Whanganui Chamber of Commerce and social enterprise facilitator Thrive Whanganui want the council to review the focus and performance of its economic development agency Whanganui & Partners. The Chamber wants Whanganui & Partners to refocus on supporting the existing business community, working with potential investors, developing necessary infrastructure and attracting new business. Thrive Whanganui wants its performance measures changed. Both say Whanganui & Partners has a key role in the Covid-19 economic recovery.

Jorgen Neilsen is asking the council to fund a feasibility study into designing, building and operating a waste to energy plant, possibly in conjunction with neighbouring councils, as a way of dealing with waste.

Improved safety and facilities for cyclists also feature in a number of submissions and velodrome roofing project supporters are urging the council to get on with the project.

Wednesday's submission hearings will be in the Council Chamber at 101 Guyton St under Covid-19 alert level 2 social distancing and hygiene restrictions. This means physical access to the hearings will be limited to councillors, some staff and scheduled presenters. Some councillors will attend the hearings via Zoom and submitters also have the option of speaking via Zoom.

The hearings will be livestreamed starting at 9.30am on Wednesday. The public is invited to view the livestream on the council's Facebook page or its website www.whanganui.govt.nz/Your-Council/Live-streamed-Council-Meeting