The Council's Citizen Engagement Director, Wendy Walker, says the new tools are part of a range of initiatives designed to help canvass the opinions of Wellingtonians as the Council prepares to develop a blueprint for the city for the next 10 years.
"With the global economic downturn, our city is facing a lot of tough spending decisions - so it's very important that we hear the views of as many residents as possible on how we can keep what's great about Wellington while making sure rates stay affordable."
The discussion board features online forums for each of the Council's seven strategies - urban development, environment, transport, economic development, governance, social and recreational, and cultural well-being - as well as a general forum for the Council's 10-year plan for the City (Long Term Council Community Plan or LTCCP).
"People will be able to click through to the forums and leave comments about our proposals under each strategy - while also giving a 'thumbs up' or 'thumbs down' to indicate whether they agree with the comments that other people have posted," says Wendy.
The online budget simulator is a fun application that puts people in the shoes of councillors as they make difficult choices about where we should prioritise spending. "Although it's not a real budgeting tool, it will give people an idea of the trade-offs the Council will need to make to keep Wellington both vibrant and affordable.
"We'll be keeping an eye on how people prioritise between activities and where people settle on the final rates increases."
Residents can formally comment on the city's draft LTCCP in mid-April but, given the importance of the plan, the Council wants to get the community involved early and stimulate some debate about the issues we face.
Wendy says the Council has already introduced a number of initiatives to engage a broad cross-section of the community. "We've got information stands across the city, a residents' panel to discuss the pros and cons of our options, a hotline for people to discuss their ideas with the Mayor and councillors, and even a Facebook page."
For more information about the Council's long term plan, and to access the new online tools, visit the Getting Involved section on the Long Term Council Community Plan 2009/19 web pages or phone (04) 499 4444.