Whanganui District Council had to take a prudent approach to its long-term plan after the unforeseen "black swan" of Covid-19 affected its budget.
The council adopted its 2021-2031 long-term plan on Tuesday after working through the highest number of public submissions it's had on record.
Mayor Hamish McDouall described it as the "most fed-back-to" plan in living memory.
A total of 608 submissions were received and McDouall thanked council staff for their hard work in processing all the suggestions and said it had been a "remarkable" consultation effort.
McDouall referred to the unforeseen "black swan" of Covid-19 flying over the horizon last year and said it had affected the long-term plan budget.
"I thought the plan would be a bit bolder but we have got to be prudent," he said.
"The decision on the Three Waters programme could be out of our control depending on what the Government decides."
Audit director Debbie Perera gave her unmodified opinion that it was a "balanced budget" and that the documents met all of Audit New Zealand's requirements.
"The only uncertainty is around the Three Waters reform programme," she said.
She said the budget allowed for the likelihood that the council would still be managing water infrastructure in the future so there was no financial risk involved.
Perera, who had completed her last report after six years of working with the council, was thanked for her service. She recalled that her first Whanganui audit was in 2015 during the aftermath of floods that year.
McDouall said the headline decision of the long-term plan had been the vote against adopting the proposed velodrome project.
"No matter how we look at it, it's a sad decision," he said.
McDouall acknowledged velodrome champion councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan for her exemplary attitude in responding to the vote against roofing the facility.
Baker-Hogan said she had investigated the possibility of introducing a motion for the council to reconsider its decision and further investigate the long-term benefits of the velodrome project but was advised by chief executive Kym Fell and legal counsel Rob Goldsbury that a motion could not proceed under the terms of the Local Government Act.
Councillor Kate Joblin praised Baker-Hogan's unstinting dedication to the project.
"What would we expect of an elite sportswoman but to support a project like the velodrome," Joblin said.
"Philippa has shown passion, commitment and graciousness."
McDouall said he had met with Cycling Whanganui and would continue discussions with the club on the future of the currently closed velodrome. There is a budget allocation of $2.5m in the long-term plan budget to "support the existing facility."
The mayor said while he understood the velodrome decision had been disappointing to some councillors and a sizeable sector of the community, the council had got the plan right in voting for the Davis Library extension, the coastal plan, and youth places and spaces development.
While the council received a lot of positive feedback during the consultation process, McDouall said there had been accusations of lack of vision which was strongly refuted and he cited the Upokongaro Cycle Bridge as an example of a "truly visionary" undertaking.
"It is the first bridge we've built in over 100 years," he said.
The development of a climate change strategy was also something councillors and staff could be proud of, McDouall said.
Councillor Alan Taylor said it was hugely significant and underpinned many other projects such as stormwater improvements.
"Around all the things we'll have to face over 10 years, climate change will underlie a lot of it," he said.