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Wednesday
Mar072012

9. East v. West

In general, most readers will have detected that I am not happy with the balance involved with the sharing of costs between the East and West sides of the Peninsula. There are many who say that it is not helpful to debate this state of affairs, and that we all have to just learn to get on with one another. Others take the view that I am just 'stirring'.

This is all very well, but a situation has developed over recent years where the imbalance has become intolerable, and many Thames rate-payers are quietly seething at the manner in which it has developed under the very noses of admittedly inexperienced councillors - you cannot blame Eastern councillors for taking advantage of this situation - they are simply doing the best they can for their own rate-payers, and if their Thames counterparts prove to be a 'pushover' they can hardly be blamed.

These are but a few of the disadvantages of Thames rate-payers that have emerged prior to and during the TYP debate - it is not exhaustive:

'Local' retention of Development Contributions - 'District' charging of infrastructure

'District' charging of wastewater, and

Proposed extension of this policy to all 'essential' services.

Water metering of Thames ( and Coromandel & Pauanui)

'Local' funding of the Thames Library (actualy provides services for entire District)

'Local' funding of swimming pool (& netball/Rhodes Park), but 'District' wide use.

'District' charging of East Coast surf lifesaving

It is time that the growth predictions are taken into account when the decisions regarding 'District' charging of infrastructure and services are debated. Whitianga is the only town in which any growth is predicted  - all others are "expected to lose permanent population". (Page 242 of Volume 1). I suggest that 'unaffordibility' is no longer sufficient argument for 'District' charging, and that it amounts to a form of ransom on poorer communities. 

It is indisputable in my opinion at least, that those who are elected to office on the Eastern Seaboard have brought observably greater debating skills to the Chamber, and certainly a far greater level of demand - their 70% absentee element are unrelenting in their demands that standards of service are provided that are comparable with what the majority receive from their 'home' (mainly urban) councils.

These people visit irregularly but are extremely vocal, and well organised whether it is in regard to water supplies, boat ramps, solid waste collection, their environment generally (remember the famous Pauanui demand for berm mowing when no one else in the District had this advantage, and for red chip seal at twice the normal cost).

Thames residents are here, generally more elderly, less demanding and have fewer needs. They are generally content with what Council provides, as long as no one interferes with their library access - and that just about says it all - Thames residents are compliant and undemonstative unlike their Eastern conterparts. There is certainly an income spread that is totally different to that on the Eastern Seaboard, despite the vociferous denials - the published statistics prove the point, even if there are a large number of 'residents' on the East who are living on pensions.

The fact is that most made the choice to live on the East Coast with its higher costs generally, just as Thames residents have made their choice - with lower costs. Life choices are everyone's to make, but there are consequences. 

What I am suggesting here is a fundamental change to Revenue and Finance Policy - why should it be 'off the table'? It needs debate, and a more responsive Council would recognise this need rather than allow itself to be bound by the past policies which have been developed by and for a particular section of the population.

They could start by reviewing the Capital v. Land rating valuation policy - an inequitable anachronism if ever there was one.

 

 

 

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