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Hot off the HH Press - "Thames rates rise 8.99%"

I know I have to stop bagging the local "news" paper, but honestly Clint, it's just not good enough. Somehow you have to persuade Fairfax bean counters to let you employ staff who can report facts rather than fiction. That page three report in today's issue is just nonsense, and I have some sympathy for the bureaucrats who went to such trouble to present the news about rate increases in "The Year Ahead" glossy in such a good light. And not a word about the additional borrowing.  Zzzzzzzzzz!

Rate-payers will fulminate over the weekend, and Strat will cop it at the market tomorrow - if he is game to show up. It will be next Friday before corrections and explanations can be printed and that will be too late to avoid recriminations all around. I know from experience how CB members will be feeling as the result of another HH cock-up as they try to explain how 2.1 becomes 8.9. Good luck!

First things first - THE THAMES RATE INCREASE IS NOT 8.9%.  It is 2.1% plus 8.9% on the local component. Plus the unmentionable 15% GST - I thought that was against the law, but anything goes when you are endeavouring to "reduce" rates.  Trying to tie down exactly what that all means in terms of your individual calculation is concerned is not easy – you won’t find it on the TCDC website “rate calculator” as suggested helpfully in the glossy – that is 2010/11 information. They did the same thing last year, and can’t seem to get it right. Oh dear!

You cannot calculate it from any other information that has been made available because the Thames component is nowhere defined, and the window on page 6 of the glossy is equally opaque. How bureaucrats manage to produce such rubbish is beyond comprehension. I believe that there must be an expensive course run somewhere on “Obfuscation – its uses, and application in local government”.

I have calls in to the appropriate people, who must all be in a meeting this morning, in an endeavor to get the relevant information. I will post it as soon as I can verify it.

In the meantime, you will without doubt be thrilled to read the news on HH page 1. that  the “user pays principle” will be at the heart of the Council’s new Ten Year Plan. Absolute bollocks! – That is not what the Plan is about, and how any journo could arrive at that conclusion, I have no idea. Read my post “Ten Year Plan 2012/2022” to see what is actually proposed.

The document in question refers repeatedly to local charging, “only to the extent that is considered affordable”. As stated in my post, this is “planning-speak” for spreading the cost of local infrastructure over the entire district. That is not “user pays”, and the policy has severely disadvantaged Thames in the past, and will do so in the future. I repeat – Thames needs no substantial infrastructure for the foreseeable future. 

There is no argument about the Thames water upgrade – that is overdue and necessary, and please don’t ask for it, or the Matatoki scheme that lies ahead to be made a “district” charge, or else Thames will cop its share of the cost of the new Tairua/Pauanui water scheme which will come in at over $12m. That scheme is the one that the planners are referring to as lacking “local affordability”.

Back to the rates increase – notice that Mayor Leach says that they have had the message “loud and clear” that communities have special projects that they are willing to "pay a little extra” for in their local rates. And then he indicates that they “want to be sure that’s what the majority really want”.

Okay, so if the proposal to spend  $100,000 on another “concept plan” for Thames sports facilities, and $50,000 on Strat’s vague heritage proposal is what you really want, just hang in there and you will get it.

If not, then you should make your voice heard through the submission and consultation process.  Let them know that the Zoom Zone (Dry Court) or Footy Pavilion proposal should not proceed without a referendum of Thames ratepayers, regardless of any “concept plan”, and that the rebuild of the swimming pool takes priority over any other fancy new sports facilities.

Believe me – Thames ratepayers are about to be taken to the cleaners unless action is taken now to stop these people who have been elected on the Zoom Zone platform.  See my “Zoom Zone” posts to clearly understand what is afoot.




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