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Council Short-takes

Coromandel Wharf   $40,000 from the Coromandel Hauraki Development ‘slush-fund’ was allocated for a Coromandel Wharf Feasibility Study. There appeared to be general enthusiasm that this study take place without delay with a view to opening the wharf up to ferry/commuter/fishing use. There seems to be very sound reasons to undertake this work, but there also needs to be some realism surrounding the likely effects of undertaking dredging activities in what is likely to be an extremely toxic environment.

Expect loud howls of protest from the environment lobby if and when it is decided to proceed. But they may just to accept that there is likely to a substantial majority of Coromandel residents supporting this activity whose concerns are more commercially than environmentally driven.

Matatoki Water The process to date on this appears to have been faultless, and Cr French’s has acquired substantial praise for the manner in which he has chaired the Working Party. The costs now appear to be around the $5.5m mark – up from the most recent $3.5m estimate, but certainly more realistic than the $13-16m estimates that have been carried forward over recent Annual Plans. Bruce Hinson demonstrated a much better grasp of the situation that was previously the case, and the plans that he has put forward appear credible.

The plan, based on the optimise and retain option now goes to WRC for approval. This involves optimising and retaining existing supplies, with provision for the Puriri River option and Kerepehi Water Treatment Plant option for the future. I for one am extremely pleased to see this latter option retained.

Hauraki Gulf Forum  This was not on the agenda but came up in the course of discussion regarding the Mayoral Forum. Cr Hoadley expressed considerable bitterness with the failure of the WRC to support her representation of TCDC on the new all-powerful Spatial Planning Group – approved last week by Auckland city with a casting vote of Penny Hulse. This is the Group that Christine Fletcher has been loudly complaining about over recent months that appears to have subordinated the more widely represented Forum with an even split Iwi/Other make-up. Roll on Co-governance – better get used to it. This was a major victory for David Taipari, though he won’t thank me for mentioning it – sorry David – you may hate it, but if you engage in uber-politics, you cannot escape that easily.

The future of the Mayoral Forum is to be discussed in full meeting of Waikato councillors in late March. There was a very luke-warm response to the suggestion that it should engage in investigations over a wider range of joint purchasing arrangements. There is apparently a commitment required to contributing to a $800k budget to carry out this work. Hammond suggested they ‘hold-fire’ until after the meeting to be held at Karapiro.

Annual Plan  Here are the rate increases. I have commented elsewhere on rates and the borrowing that has been found necessary in order to preserve election promises. I intend to highlight the additional borrowing which as you see will take total borrowing to within 7% or $6m of the mandated limit of 150% of rate revenue. That is not much of a cushion – another year like this one will see a further dip into this decreasing pool, and then unpalatable rate increases are inevitable. Oh well, such is life in election year! 




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