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Thursday
May192011

"Bill Barclay gets it wrong" - Mayor Glenn Leach

Mayor Leach has put out a press release tonight denying my claim that the Council has been deceptive in the manner that it has achieved its rate reduction.

Clearly this resulted from the content of the column published today in the Peninsula Press. This was a direct re-print of my post on the subject on 12 May, in which, amongst other matters, I drew attention to the substantial and unusual $10m capital budget under-spend revealed in 28 February Accounts, presented to Council on 13 April.

This was the first indication that something was afoot in terms of postponed, or canceled capital projects, and has been born out by the list in Mayor Leach's press release that revealed $1.7m. savings in capital works during the current financial year. 

I also drew attention to the "cancelling all storm-water capital infrastructure works for the next three years".  This statement was incorrect to the extent that it was the three years commencing 1 July 2012. The error certainly gave the Mayor the opportunity to berate me in his press release for “being confused”. 

Nevertheless, the basic premise remains – the medium term savings to achieve zero rate increases will only be possible through this device rather than through any other savings that may be claimed through “staff attrition or improved internal processes”.  But Mayor Leach is correct in stating that these are only proposals at this stage, still subject to public consultation before being adopted in the LTCCP later this year.

I don’t recall making any “conspiracy insinuates (sic) that savings are being achieved by secret creative accounting and back room deals and that we were not being honest about how we are reducing the annual rate”, and challenge him to produce evidence of such.

On the other hand, I do not resile from suggesting that deception, intended or otherwise, was involved in the manner in which the plans to cancel or substantially reduce storm-water expenditure for a period of three years was well hidden from public view until revealed on page 63 of the Council Papers for the LTCCP meeting on 12 May. This not only proposes expenditure cuts of some $10m, but involves the postponement of major projects that have safety implications.

The speed with which these proposals were adopted by the meeting without any discussion indicated that they had already been agreed to behind closed doors. This is not a satisfactory way to conduct Council business, and I do not resile from my repeated criticism of this procedure.

As for Mayor Leach’s claim that “Last week Mr Barclay said that we were borrowing money to fund rate reductions, which is another fabrication, and now he has another theory this week”.

The only fabrication is that of Mayor Leach. At no time have I ever made such a claim.  I simply indicated that Council had proposed to change its long standing borrowing rule that combined internal and external borrowing should not exceed 150% of revenue. The proposed new rule is that external borrowing only is to be the benchmark for the 150% rule. This is a fundamental change that will enable Council to borrow a further $55m. over the next ten years. That is all I claimed - in my 15 April post on   Finance and Revenue in the first instance, and he has made no attempt to deny this.

I maintain that even contemplating such a change is both imprudent and unwise - a view that would appear to be supported by local government policy analyst - Larry Mitchell.

I accept and regret my error in regard to the commencement date for the proposed cancellation/postponement of storm-water capital works.  I undertake to do better in the future, but categorically deny Mayor Leach’s other claims. I trust that he will attempt to do likewise - he could start by conducting all council business in open meeting, as he is required to do under the Local Government Act unless there are specific and legitimate reasons for not doing so, as stipulated under the Act.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (5)

CONFUSED?

"I don’t recall making any “conspiracy insinuates (sic) that savings are being achieved by secret creative accounting and back room deals and that we were not being honest about how we are reducing the annual rate”, and challenge him to produce evidence of such."

FROM YOUR OWN BLOG

1. "it had been already decided in a 'closed door' workshop and delivered on a plate as instructed."
2. "They have kept this secret from rate-payers from the outset of their deliberations"
3. "today's press release continued this dishonest action by claiming that the savings had been achieved 'through natural attrition and improved internal processes"
4. "..The savings achieved by a stroke of the pen"
5..."This in my view is a deliberate attempt to obfuscate and in effect, hide the means by which these savings had been achieved. "
6. "One can only speculate that these changes have resulted from the closed door workshops.."

STILL CONFUSED?

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOBSERVER

I am not confused, but clearly you are.
Since you are not prepared to put your name to your comments, I will refrain from explaining why you are wrong -
simply that you are entitled to your view.

May 19, 2011 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

Regarding the previous posting for whom the author was too gutless to sign.

At the last election campaign, I remember Glen Leach (Mayoral candidate) saying the entire previous Council - elected members and the Chief Executive - were completely and utterly incompetent and they should all get kicked out, despite the fact he offered no shred of evidence to sustain such accusations. Yet now he is saying the Chief Executive is wonderful, has made only cosmetic changes to Council process and is trying to conduct all important business 'behind closed doors'

It would seem to me that if Glen wants to dish it out, he needs to be tough enough to take it too. Get a thick skin.

Dal Minogue.

P.S. Slight correction. The Mayor from the previous Council actually was incompetent - but she was only there because the Glenn Leach 'political band' thought it expedient to put her there.

May 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

In the past, the minutes of some groups were always placed in the Council order paper. I wonder if the minutes of the 'workshops' should be there as well because of the government instruction for open and transparent governence.
If there are minutes of the 'workshops', and I think there must be, to comply with the check by Audit NZ, then they should be accessable under the Freedom of Information act. Somebody want to try?

May 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter H Wood

Good on you Bill!
"Observers" responce suggests that some of your comments are finding a point of vulnerability. Smoke without fire and all that eh?
It is heartening to observe that your blog is generating a responce of some sort. Politics is alway good for a robust debate and it is is a credit to any commentator who can rouse a spirited responce.
And wondering who "Observer" is will keep us busy for a while, as will waiting for his ("Observers") next responce.
Dam good stuff all this eh...

May 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

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