2. Heads I Win - Tails You Lose!
Monday, March 5, 2012 at 12:22PM
Bill Barclay

Never was this more appropriate than with an intention revealed in the TYP document released with fanfare today.

This is by way of the proposed changes to ‘district wide’ funding of essential services – listed as water-supply, wastewater, stormwater, district transportation (roads etc.) and solid waste (rubbish services etc.) Though Stormwater is postponed until 2015 "In order to modedrate what would otherwise be sibstatntial movements for some members of our community". This exacerbates the nonsensical  logic applying in that this is the one charge that were it made "district", it would substantially benefit the ratepayers of Thames - their current charges being substantially higher than in the remainder of the District.

Again, the Thames Councillors appear to have had the wool pulled over their eyes. If you are going to justify going 'district' in the interests of "fairness' as is repeated over and over, then it should be total deal - not just with the eyes picked out it for the benefit of Eastern ratepayers. 

Of course, Development Contributions remain locked into the area where the development takes place – no change to that policy is proposed here - this is spelled out precisely on Page 15 of Volume 3 of the TYP.  This has been the situation since at least 2000 when ‘District’ charging of wastewater was first introduced to the distinct disadvantage of Thames and Coromandel.

The movement towards ‘District’ charging of water has been on the table ever since the cost (up to $20m) of the Tairua/Pauanui scheme became known – all in the interests of ‘affordability’. Now the principle is to be extended, but you can bet that Eastern Seaboard councillors will defend in the ditches their right to retain Development Contributions for local use.

The argument falls flat on its face when infrastructure is made the responsibility of the whole district – after all, the rationale for these Development Contributions is almost entirely for the provision of infrastructure. But because wastewater cost is met by the whole district, Whitianga in particular is able  to now proceed with extravagant sports-ground and town centre development – these are paid for out of the (non-cash) Reserve funds. Being non-cash, they are in effect borrowed from within the new ceiling established last year, and for which the entire District needs to accept responsibility - another hit on the poorer communities.

This rationale has suited Eastern Seaboard communities wonderfully over the years, as Thames has been left to pick up its share of the cost of the Eastern Seaboard infrastructure. Thames meanwhile has next to no new development, and consequently no attached reserve fund of any consequence.

Don't believe for a second the oft used rationale that the Matatoki scheme will "square the books" - that is an anomoly that results from unforeseen circumstances  when the 'clean water' legislation was passed - existing schemes were protected even when totally uneconomic, and believe me - there are no Development Contributions attached to that scheme - just costs!

This essential imbalance in the system is about to be made a great deal worse by the proposals put forward in the TYP, but few will pick up on it - even the Stormwatrer anomoly will pass under the radar.

It is all apparently designed “to make things fairer” (direct quote from the Summary) – well, fairer for whom? 

 

 

 

Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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