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Deliberations Day One

Today was significant for a number of reasons. In the first place, even though the Council is looking down the barrel of additional $22m borrowing up until 30 June 2014, they managed to cut not one brazoo off the budget to-day. Here is hoping that they do better tomorrow, otherwise Steve Baker is going to be coming back later with some pretty unwelcome figures for an election year.

He pointed out the fairly obvious risks - Development Contributions, leaky homes, and interest rates. Ho Hum!

Capex of $35m has been revised down from $35 m to $23m with $16m spent to date in the current year - they are going to be busy up until 30 June, but I suspect that there is an element of deliberate delay to balance the complete loss of Development Contributions, so expect to see substantial' carry-over'.

There are few savings to come out of the operational budget, so expect to see some real pressure to come on in regard to capex for the coming year - all the fancy projects are facing a severe haircut I suspect, and that is not going to please certain councillors who are already being asked the question - "What about the promises?".Leach is determined to hang on to his rate decreases, so something has to give.

Here are a few of the 'rats & mice':

Major Events - increased from $20k to $75k - ita appears for two events which will no doubt be on the Eastern Seaboard.

Mayoral Forum - a great deal of anguish over this, but as expected they came down in favour of only supporting the $26k in shared services, and backed of the spatial plan commitment.of a further $150k and the economic development proposal, but agreed to offer the Blueprint as our contribution, and continue our position until they accept tourism as a recognised activity.

Information Centres - They decided to follow the recommendation to only district fund Whitianga and Thames. That caused Strat to rise up in defence of Thames when Kopu was suggested as the logical centre in the medium term - his Urban Plan needs the centre to be at Placemakers, but Leach gave him short shrift. 

Development Contributions - Johnston whinged about the level of contributions required as a result of the interest component of Additional Capacity(AC) on outstanding loans. Clearly, this is an issue that is going to come to the fore before the election, an Leach has made quite clear that he wants changes made, but he does not want to put himself in the position of being pilloried for helping developers. Watch this space!

Biosolids - There is big trouble associated with the biosolid plant at Whitianga and a great deal of arse covering going on. The budgets were not robust and another case of Whitianga over-expenditure is under way - again, watch this space.

Biodiversity - a nice little brawl was avoided on 1080 with Tony Brljevich propounding his usual distortion regarding established TCDC policy - its use is not contrary to TCDC policy as he claims ad nauseum, it is simply that alternatives are 'preferred'. Leach put him in his place, but it makes little difference. Allison Henry expressed real concern at the removal of $2,500 from Biodiversity Waikato until they agree that none of it goes into 1080.

Marae Development - The $30,000 usually put in this direction was removed on the basis that all the marae have access to the discretionary hall funding, which is plain bull of course. The decision was unanimous, and a reaction can be expected - it was a victory for the red-neck element I am afraid. Bartley even suggested that there were no residents of the East Coast who would would seek succour pon a marae in the event of an emergency, this being the major rationale provided for continuing to provide the funding. That puts all the good community relations stuff on to the back burner I would suggest, and it  may come back to bite.




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