In my last column, I talked about providing opportunities for students to stay in Dunedin on the completion of their studies. It would be great to turn a few years of study into the beginning of a career or a business in the city as a permanent resident.
Part of being a resident is engaging with your local council on the issues that matter to you. As well as providing essential services such as water, roads, and rubbish collection, local councils also provide facilities such as swimming pools, libraries, galleries and sports grounds, and other services such as civil defence emergency management, economic development and support, animal control, community development and much more.
The bulk of the funding for most of these services comes from rates – an annual charge collected from property owners. While you may not own your own property, you do pay rates indirectly through your rent. Therefore a substantial portion of the rates the Dunedin City Council collects comes from the student population. So it’s important you have your say on how rates are spent and that you exert an influence on how the Council deals with the various issues and challenges it confronts.
Dunedin faces the full range of challenges confronting many councils across New Zealand —natural hazards, environmental protection, climate change and sea level rise, an aging population, regional development, infrastructural investment…the list goes on.
One of the important ways you can influence the decisions that shape Dunedin City is to get involved in the local elections later this year – either by enrolling to vote and then voting, or standing for election yourself.
Councils and communities constantly need to refresh their thinking. New thinking often comes from young people and many of you are studying and training in new areas which will have a major impact on the world. So do consider using these skills and knowledge to influence Council, its makeup and its policies.
In the meantime, check your enrolment details online at www.elections.org.nz or at any NZ Post Shop. Voting documents are delivered Friday, 16 September to Wednesday, 21 September and voting closes at 12 noon, Saturday 8, October 2016.