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Mayor's Election Statement

Here is the statement put out by Glenn Leach late on Saturday

It would be churlish to argue with Mr Leach's use of the TCDC PR team to prepare his statement and put it out out on the Website.

But it does make interesting reading nevertheless, and coming out when it did, one must accept that it has particular validity in defining the parameters of the new Council.

These are the ones that attracted my attention:

"Some work we'll be getting stuck into straight away will be embedding our Council's Economic Development Action Plan focusing on three major projects; the Coromandel Great Walks, the Coromandel Harbour Facilities Project and building the Hauraki Rail Trail cycleway from Kaiaua to Kopu".

I find the absence of the aquaculture fish farming venture interesting because Glenn has had it at the top of his political priorities in previous statements. It may or may not indicate a desire to move away from too close an association with a project that is likely to have a severe political, as well as ecological downsides before it comes to fruition. 

Here is another:

"Must haves the priority - not the nice to haves

Our Council and Community Boards will only be spending where necessity dictates.

Not on my watch will there be spending on the nice to haves, it's about the must haves and anything else will be put on hold."

This must indicate an intention to put the stoppers on projects such as the as the Thames Urban Development Strategy. Much has been made both in the report, and by candidates, that almost the entire proposal could be implemented with minimal expenditure, and that most could be sourced through private investment - a total nonsense of course, and the consultants were wise enough to avoid specifics in that regard.

It would seem that there is now every likelihood that Strat will be returned to the Chair on the Board where he has the ambition of implementing the entire Strategy during the next term. That should result in some interesting tensions within Council, because virtually anything spent on the strategy will need to be borrowed, thus adding to the already high debt level. And that debt will be principally owed by Thames ratepayers - not District, just as in the case of borrowing for the Whitianga Sports-complex. 

It is interesting that Glenn continues to brag about the fall in 'direct operating costs' from $38.3m to $35.9m - a not insignificant drop, but badly in need of analysis because of, for example, the simple expedient of simply canceling Stormwater upgrades, along with capital expenditure during the first year of the last term.  That was but one of the questionable Leach promoted initiatives. What is more interesting is the total reluctance to analyse debt levels, though this was right at the forefront of virtually in every other election.  

That debt level by the way will need to be reviewed as the incoming Council comes to terms with the need to incorporate 'internal' borrowing as total debt when calculating individual ratepayer debt levels. Resistance to this interpretation has only been possible because of the disinterest of the Auditor General in debt other than 'external'. It will nevertheless become quite important as Glenn plots the levels of permissible debt over the course of the next term.

They all may find this re-interpretation quite restraining, and end up simply ignoring it as 'inconvenient'.

Watch this space!


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