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Watch Out, Here Come The Chickens!

Well at last the penny has dropped, and with todays presser about the Mayor urging spending restraint, our Council has finally come face to face with reality.

Increased rates are a 'pound to a packet of peanuts' as Glenn Leach seeks to soften the blow "after three years successfully reducing the average rate." what a complete and utter disaster - after all that grandstanding that we have been subjected to by Leach while he has taken interminable credit for having reduced rates, and cut operating costs, it now is clear that those reductions were undertaken in the full knowledge that eventually  interest of borrowings to cover the cost of the wastewater plants would have to be costed into the Ten Year Plan.

To claim as he has in this presser that it is all down to the 2007/10 Council is a very clear example of Leach's total inability to understand the first principles of Council accounting - they knew perfectly well from the time this Council took over in 2010 that there were substantial shortfalls on the growth projections, and that the consequent lack of future Development Contributions would demand prudence and caution with future financial planning.

But no, our tyro councillors, led by their bombastic Mayor who had made promises he could not reasonably keep during the course of the campaign set about cutting millions out of the asset renewal budgets to cover the cost of their blatant vote seeking 'empowerment' regime, and then set about cutting rates simply to keep faith with stupid promises. The cuts were totally unjustified, but served the purpose of ensuring re-election.

Well now, these same councillors and Mayor are about to find out the reaction amongst hood-winked rate-payers who will be less than receptive to being told that the all the so-called rate decreases are about to be re-instated, and rates increased.

The spin in this presser designed to shift the blame on to the 2007/10 Council is beyond disingenuous, it smacks of deceit, or ignorance, or both. I cannot believe that CFO Steve Baker, for all his B/S has not issued continuous warnings within the closed-door workshops where all the real work is done in this Council. Those warnings will surely have included the consequences of their failure to accept the need for urgent measures to off-set the interest effects of the un-met growth that has progressed continuously from 2006, or thereabouts. 

Now that the next Ten Year Plan has to dealt with, the inevitable 'catch-up' is about to hit, and there is no way that the effects can be postponed any longer. It will not be at all surprising if a considerable number of the existing raft of councillors decide that their Council days are over when the full effect of rates increases becomes more widely known in the community - that should be some time next year. The extent of their naivety will not be forgiven easily, and the attempt to shift blame on to the previous Council will treated with the contempt it deserves.

The only alternative is for some major cost-cutting to take place that will destroy Leach's Legacy Projects by which he has has placed so much political capital. But there is far more than that involved - countless additional staff have been taken on on high salaries over the last three years more than offsetting the departures of experienced knowledgeable staff who have been snapped up elsewhere. These people have been floundering in their new roles, and there are many new roles - believe you me! In particular, millions have been spent implementing the so-called 'empowerment' regime with odd bods everywhere in area offices undertaking ill-defined tasks either as employees, or under ubiquitous contract arrangements. Deputy Chief Executive Ben Day has had more than a small hand in all this, and of course his knowledge prior to arriving at this Council was mainly confined to the communications area - need I say more.

The more telling statement in the presser is the sting in the tail:

"Mayor Leach praised his team and staff for achieving a satisfying reduction of average rates over the past three years, to the point of reaching the lowest operating cost per rateable property in the Waikato."

There is a reason for that, and it does not reflect well on Leach, councillors, or Council staff. There should hanging heads all around!



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Reader Comments (5)

What is Leach on about re the waste water plants?? He knew all about the costs [or claimed too] before standing as Mayor, and some councillors I have spoken too tell me that the ACTUAL plants construction costs came in under budget BUT it is all the add ons that the each respective community wanted. No disposal out to sea for Whangamata- had to be pumped into the forests, Pauanui wanted their golf course and runway watered and Whitianga wanted water for sportsfield etc.
Talking of Sportsfields Glenn-- lets not forget the overrun there under your watch- contract price 3.85 mill. now I believe 14mill and climbing-- oh dear--- still cannot be used as intended!
You may, just may been able to blame the previous Council in your first 3 years but now into your fourth year as Mayor the buck stops right at your door. No amount of massaging of the poo ponds facts will change that. You and your council got rid of some excellent staff because they had not pleased you, somehow, on previous occassions-- and you knew better how to control rates- or so you thought.
Nobody I have spoken too here, on the eastern seaboard, knew how you could keep rates below inflation and not even allow for some capital works--[in fact removed important stormwater projects] so it was only a matter of time - But what of Glenn's fellow travellers - the 8 elected members--surely they cannot all been there just for the ride???
I was contemplating selling our beach property-- you have just bought that decision forward Mr. Leach.

October 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYeah right

Bill, on your 12 October post under "Mercury Bay Sports Park" you said:
" But interestingly enough, and buried deep in the Release is the revelation that Council has found another $100,000 of what is described as "unspent capital expenditure already allocated to the Sport's Park."
I am caused to wonder how it can be that "Yeah Right" says that the cost over-run on the project is in the order of $10,000,000.00, but that Council found the $100,000.00 not spent?
Help me - who do I believe?
If indeed the over-run scenario is as severe as suggested, then rate-payers across the district surely do have a large rates increase to look forward to.
Again I ask, where are the Thames Councillors in all of this - and why is our Thames Community Board not howling like dogs, in the protection of Thames' interests...

October 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

It is all done with smoke and mirrors Russell - otherwise how is it that they have "unspent expenditure". The embarrassment at Whitianga is so great that they are simply determined to get the turf growing - no matter what. The middle of this summer should prove their un-doing, and by then, the spin doctors will be working overtime. The financial un-ravelling has begun, mark my words!

October 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill

Hello Zoom Zone--- Goodbye Zoom Zone

October 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPigeon Toed

No not Zoom Zone --Strat Peters will be distraught.

October 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYeah Right

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