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Cemeteries and Public Toilets

These two funding and expenditure centres remain outside of the range of activities that have been transferred to board oversight and funding. To move them over would require a TYP amendment, and substantial changes to the accounting system. In addition the current 38% subsidy that flows from internal interest through the UAGC (Uniform Annual General Charge) would cease, and the costs would lie exactly where they fall.

This splendid policy, along with many others flowing from board empowerment will of course have unintended consequences which are somewhat frightening for councillors facing re-election. In fact, the consequences for Mercury Bay could be substantial with $311k capital expenditure planned for the current year cemetery stage 1, along with 40% (34 toilets) of the oprerating costs ($945k currently), all of which is currently district funded. And so it was decided while governance will now transfer to the boards, funding will remain District until the 2015/2025 TYP Process. This is of course a ‘cop-out’ designed to protect Mercury Bay ratepayers in particular from any sudden surge in rate, and leave the District and interest rate subsidy in place.

There was of course a bleat from the Mercury Bay Chair – Allison Henry, supported by the Mayor, that it should be left open even in 2015 for some toilets to be  District funded because of their tourism value. I don’t understand the logic, other than it representing another “Heads I win – Tails you lose” scenario that we have become so used to. The Chief Executive also apparently suggested user charging for some toilets – possibly on the cycle and walk-ways, though I never actually heard the sugestion. Seems like an open invitation for vandalism to me, but perhaps he has that covered.

What became clear is that the Mayor wishes to see the whole rating system reviewed before 2015-25 through the usual Revenue & Finance Policy Process. I get the impression that he leans towards ‘capital’ over ‘land’ – a hugely controversial issue that has major political ramifications that will ensure that he takes it very carefully and very slowly. Just how long this district can afford to hold out with its current archaic ‘land’ based system is any ones guess - amalgamation is probably out of the question until this is resolved, but self-interest will determine the outcome, as usual.




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