Boat Ramp Fees (1)
Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 10:13AM
Bill Barclay

The agenda for the Council meeting of 8 December was released at 2pm on Friday 3 December - two days later than legally required to be made public. No explanation was given.

Item 2.6 on the agenda contains a recommendation from staff that enforcement of the Boat launching  (Parking?) fees should be suspended from 12 December until 30 June 2011. This is obviously in response to the demands of certain Eastern councillors who had the removal of these fees as an integral part of their election platform.

What ratepayers need to know is that the report that accompanies the recommendation contains detailed background information as to how the fees were introduced through the LTCCP consultation process, and that it was one of many measures taken to redress the financial shortfall that Council was facing. 940 responses were received to the specific question regarding Ramp Fees - 541 were in favour. Councillors followed an intricate process in arriving at its decision which was based on the need to recover costs of operating the ramps amounting to over $720,000 in the current year, together with the over $100,000 capital cost of upgrading the Matarangi ramp.

Note also that the large number of the private boat ramp users at Waikawau on the Western side of Peninsula are required to pay either an annual, or per launch fee equivalent to the fee adopted through the LTCCP. Note also the specific fee arrangements that apply at Whangamata, and at Sugarloaf, Coromandel. So it is also a fairness issue with every non-boat owning ratepayer now being expected to subsidise those who wish to launch at every other Council owned ramp in the District, should this recommendation be adopted.

Thames and other councillors need to think very seriously before being "rail-roaded" into acceptance of this recommendation.  It is clearly aimed at leading to permanent suspension after the 30 June deadline, and this will certainly require further public consultation under the LGA, or adoption of an "inconsistent" decision, as indeed is the current "temporary" recommendation.

Reversal of the policy in the face of self-interested defiance by certain rogue elements within the boating community hardly constitutes strong leadership. If this represents the manner in which this Council intends to proceed, then expect further minority rate and fee revolts as time goes on.  

Update on Monday, December 6, 2010 at 11:12AM by Registered CommenterBill Barclay

Oops! - I have just been informed that the legal requirement  for publishing the agenda is two, not seven days, and that TCDC exceed that requirement by making it available on the Friday afternoon before a meeting. Councillors get it seven days prior, so I do not quite understand why it cannot be made available to the public simultaneously, but I guess the letter of the law applies! TCDC indicate that it gives them time prepare themselves for questions.

Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
See website for complete article licensing information.