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Unitary Authority Redux

Further to my post dated 13 March below, I made further enquires of David Hammond today regarding the current state of planning in regard to the proposed Coromandel Unitary Authority. This followed the very interesting debate on the post from various sources around the District, not the least that from Geoffrey Robinson who disputed my contention that the proposal was 'dead in the water' - a definite impression that we (Robert Jeffares and yours truely) gained at the meeting on 13 March. 

This was his reply:

"Hi, Bill the information gathering is proceeding. We are working with Regional Council on the money in and out, the services they do, the Regional contribution etc. Aim to have together by May for workshopping. Possible decision on whether to go to a next stage by June. Also looking at shared services at same time but strong reservations over the project design given best practice from overseas examples. David"

Well it is proceeding, but whether with the same degree of urgency or otherwise remains to be seen. I am still not convinced that the task is being approached with any level of confidence, but the "money in and out" situation will certainly be interesting. I will reserve judgement  on Geoffrey's contention that it is all hunky dory and on-track.  The shared services thing certainly looks 'off-track' as things stand, and as David says - the lack of transparency leaves a lot to be desired.




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Reader Comments (5)

I seem to recall back in the 90's [when Leach was on Council] that Council then looked at a Unitary Authority for this area - Cr. Bob Birch [the man Leach bought in at the start of this current councils term to rev up councillors about staff and costs] was one who was tasked with the job by Mayor Thompson. Apparently then it did not stack up financially - the cost of a building, vehicles, staff, the large amount of flood protection stopbanks, huge coastline, DOC controlling 35% of the TCDC area, many streams, large numbers of noxious animals to control and so forth. Not sure where Robinson gets his facts from but this Council probably would be the worst placed of all Councils to go it alone.
Had we proceeded with the predator proof fence at the northern end of the Peninsula as proposed back then [creating a main land sanctuary that would have been outstanding in conservation terms today] but this was strenously opposed by factions living north of Colville -then maybe just maybe we might have been able to pull off a unitary council now - far less to pay in noxious animal control- a lost opportunity.
Just how Robinson proposes to administer/regulate the proposed aquaculture ventures, the wharves, moorings, stream maintenance, tsunami protection work, mangrove eradication, monitoring exotic forestry, earth works, air emission controls, transport, Civil Defence and a host of other things is beyond me.
If I recall correctly Robinson lead the charge againist Enviroment Waikato at the last election- about high rates, new buildings, too many staff - and I fear that he like Leach will find that should we end up with a unitary authority, the cost will outstrip any savings by a country mile because I reckon we will have to employ more staff per ratepayer than now, more consultants - the costs will spiral out of control very quickly.
I note in previous blogs the comment is made about paying to wards Lake Taupo - but that was a Central Govt. directive if I am not wrong - same as the people in Waihi Beach for example, pay for the clean up of the Rotorua Lakes - current taxpayers/ratepayers have to contribute to right the wrongs of yesteryear.
Now here is a thought - if Central Govt. wants to control Councils-Regional or otherwise - they may see 'our' current disatisfaction with Waikato Regional Council as an opportunity to lump us in with the Auckland unitary authority - after all Auckland controls most of the gulf islands - right out to the Barrier - the Hauraki Gulf forum lords over all of the water virtually right around the Peninsula down to Bowentown [Waihi Beach] under the current Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000 - so including TCDC into the mix might just suit this current Covernment thinking . Sometimes one needs to be very careful what they wish for - especially when the local Mayor gets offside with his neighbours [ and fails to attend LGNZ conferences] - big brother has a way of bringing such problem children into line----------------------------------------------------

March 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCyclops

While the 'money in - money out' analysis might prove interesting for bean-counters, it will only be meaningful if there is an 'apples for apples' comparison for providing the same level of service. If the TCDC approach is to cost doing only the bare minimum to be legally compliant v's the current level of service provided by the WRC, then it will be a meaningless exercise at best or a political jack-up at worst.

And what if an 'apples with apples' analysis was done by the WRC on the one hand and by the TCDC on the other? Would the 'money in - money out' figures be the same? I bet they wouldn't if the TCDC decided become a stand alone unitary authority!

The comments made about Birch doing the numbers on this some years ago are interesting. I recall the last three Regional Councillors - Evan Penny, Arthur Hinds and Simon Friar - all agreeing with the results of Birch's analysis saying that overall The TCDC is heavily subsidised by the Regional Council. In particular, I recall Even Penny warning "don't go there, you may be embarassed by what you find" - and warning also that it might not be wise to draw too much attention to the matter.

But really the big tests or questions must be:

1) What would a TCDC unitary authority deliver on - will it be the same service or a reduced one compared to any other broader, newly proposed structure?

2) If it is a reduced service, what will be the impact of that on our environment, given that the extra powers granted to a such a unitary authority relate directly to environmental protection?

2) What is the likelihood of a TCDC unitary authority becoming 'politically hi-jacked', providing inconsistent and/or unbalanced environmental policy that with hindsight becomes deeply regrettable?

We live in an area that must be regarded as as one of the environmental gems of the Country that deserves competent environmental protection in line with best current practice.

So it will be very interested to see what is proposed by the WRC.

With regard to this matter, there is way more to consider than bean-counting (probably with dubious figures) and good old parochial chest-thumping (designed to put your brain to sleep).

Dal Minogue

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

Where does the drive for a unitary authority come from really? If it's the U C L A (the Robinsons) then do they have an ulterior motive concerning who decides the aerial placement of 1080. I agree with cyclops in the erudite understanding that more edifice will hit ratepayers pockets. The LG system was set up with the best intentions at the time. Change does not guarantee 'better'.

March 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter H Wood,

Whew the silence from Robinson is deafening - maybe he has no answers - maybe as Peter suggests ULCA just want to be able to control 1080 drops - or maybe what Cyclops suggests, Central Govt. may just lump us in with Auckland - no body else wants us - Mayor Vercoe has said that loud and clear some months ago - and HDC would much rather run with Matamata- Piako cause they have 'communities of interest' - and that has worried him [Robinson] no end. Being a 'loner' in the LG sector is no fun [ask Michael Laws] and LGNZ is bigger than any tin pot council in this country AND the Local Government Commission is even bigger still - remember 'united we stand - divided we fall'
Having spoken to one or two officiers of WRC I was told that for EVERY dollar raised in rates in the TCDC area - WRC spends two dollars in the TC District AND other TA's in the WRC region are becomimg very disenchanted with that spend - so as Cyclops said 'be careful what you wish for' because the next question is - will you ever be able to complete the requirements under LGA 2000 AND save money - I sincerely doubt it

March 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPossum

The TCDC have Buckleys chance of becoming a Unitary Authority.

Sorry could not resist that.

And besides the likely result of strong minded personality driven pork barrel bombast formulating policy on the hoof is just too gauche be considered a sensible MO for any Council in this day and age.

I think a Sandra Goudie clone in charge would be the perfect own goal for the likes of the Robinsons and their idealised world of local organic possum patties sold at the the local markets.

But to give then their due they are persistent. Much like the overwhelming evidence of 1080 being the most cost effective and safest pest management tool.

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

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