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Thursday
Mar202014

Annual Plan

I have begun to take close look at what is being proposed - here is the summary of the changes proposed to the TYP projects.

The devil lies in the detail of the changes, because this is where Leach's legacy Projects (LLP's) are covered, and where major infrastructure is postponed or removed in order to provide the funds needed.

Here are the major changes proposed to the TYP (minor stuff, and fees & charges edited out)

New Projects

  • $1.525m is proposed for the Coromandel Great Walks project for construction of a walkway from Hot Water Beach to Cathedral Cove (this includes $275,000 for initial design and consenting).
  • We have proposed a new budget of $850,000 to investigate Coromandel Harbour facilities - subject to further consultation and business case approval.
  • We've increased our investment in Economic Development. This increased focus came after our 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan. So the proposed 2014/2015 budget shows an increase in rates requirement (from the 2013/2014 Annual Plan to the 2014/2015 Annual Plan) of approximately $834,000 with the introduction of a number of key projects to help lift our district’s and communities economic development activities. This is broken down into: projects to support Economic Development ($263,000), Regional Partnership Programme ($40,000), Events ($100,000), and Destination Coromandel ($145,000).
  • $315,000 has been included for investigation into a new project for the construction of new netball courts as well as swimming pool clubrooms upgrade at the Coromandel Area School, called Coromandel Sportsville.
  • $520,000 for a new Whitianga Coastal Erosion Project focussing on physical works at Brophy Beach in the 2014/2015 year. As outlined in the 2013/2014 Annual Plan it is anticipated that the total cost of coastal erosion works will be approximately $1.3million over the three year period from 2013- 2015.


What We’ll Reduce or Remove from the Work Program

  • To minimise rating impacts, we are not proposing to rate for our Disaster Reserve in 2014/2015
  • Tairua-Manaia Road Causeway. The budget has been reduced from $1,112,750 to $500,000. This is pending an agreement being confirmed between the Waikato Regional Council and Thames-Coromandel District Council. Further work on this is still outstanding and Council will be revisiting funding of this project with consideration to where the projects benefit lie, as well as the priority of this project as a whole. At this stage an agreement between the two councils and affected parties remains outstanding.
  • We are placing the Aquaculture Infrastructure project at Coromandel ($2,566,878) on hold, pending the recommendations of the Coromandel Harbour Strategy.
  • Following the completion of Stage One of the Mercury Bay cemetery in 2012/2013, no further budget has been allocated to this project until investigations are carried out in the 2014/2015 year to determine the future stages of this project.
  • The Ten Year Plan provided a project in the 2012/2013 year for building repairs to the Thames Library ($500,000). This project was placed on hold and the budget carried forward to the 2013/2014 year. Due to other priorities, this project remains on hold.
  • Where possible, for the Wastewater, Water and Solid Waste Activities, renewals budgets have been reduced in an effort to minimise rating impacts. It is not expected that this will impact levels of service, but rather reflects a change to budgeting practice at the Council.
  • The Mercury Bay South Transfer Station and Green Waste project ($590,000) has been removed at the request of the Mercury Bay Community Board on the basis that the priority instead is the Whitianga Refuse Station.
  • Moana Anu Anu Walkway at Whangamata ($111,603) has been suspended from the 2014/2015 year by the Whangamata Community Board as they are exercising prudence in financial management.


What We’ll Defer or Bring Forward

  • Thames Community Sports Facility investigations. The 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan allocated $1million for the 2013/2014 year and $1million for the 2014/2015 year. It is proposed that this project be partly deferred from the 2014/2015 year to the 2015/2016 year. $445,000 has been allocated for the 2014/2015 year for investigation work, with the outcomes of this work and a business case to be presented for decision by Council in September 2014.
  • The Whitianga Town Centre upgrade project has been placed under review and a business case and project plan will be considered by Council in the 2013/2014 year to determine the future of this project. The $3.05million allocated for the 2014/2015 year in the 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan (split across local transportation, water, wastewater and stormwater activities) has, for the time being, been removed.
  • Alignment of TCDC’s Tairua-Manaia Road Causeway improvements with Waikato Regional Council’s complementary flood mitigation project means that this project timeline has been delayed a year with design and consenting occurring in 2013/2014 and physical works in 2014/2015.
  • We have deferred the Thames Skate Park ($161,151) project from the 2013/2014 to the 2014/2015 year.
  • The Wentworth Valley Seal Extension ($930,000) project has been deferred to the 2015 year.
  • We are bringing forward the Transfer Station Whitianga (Solid Waste activity) $350,000 to the 2014/2015 year for investigations. This project was identified in the 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan in years 2020/2021-2021/2022 at a total budget cost of $2.3m. The Mercury Bay Community Board have requested lead-in investigations work be undertaken in the 2014/2015 year with the possibility of physical works in the 2015/2016 year.
  • Tairua River Bank Filtration ($645,000). This project has been carried forward from 2013/2014 due to a lack of certainty regarding long-term resource consents. This project is under internal review and further project planning will be undertaken.
  • Pauanui Aquifer reconfiguration ($329,000). This project has been deferred from 2012/2013 and again from 2013/2014 to the 2014/2015 year due to a lack of certainty regarding long-term resource consents.
  • Whangamata Renewals. Water ($120,054). This project has been carried forward from 2013/2014 due to a lack of certainty regarding long-term resource consents. This project is under internal review and further project planning will be undertaken.


Being Increased

  • We have proposed a budget of $1.2 million for the Hauraki Rail Trail - Stage 2 Kopu to Kaiaua project. A budget of $300,000 was allocated in the 2012- 2022 Ten Year Plan.
  • The Thames Skate Park development has increased in costs from what was identified in the Ten Year Plan from $161,151 to $220,500 and has been split over three years to include the 2014/2015 year.

 

You will notice that there are some fairly major infrastructure works in the list of projects that have been dropped or postponed in favour of the bright shiny new projects on which Leach and his cohort have invested so much political capital. 

Some strange inconsistencies jump out, including:

Coromandel Great Walks - $1.525k allocated, but apart from Resource Consents $180k, Legals $70k, Planning & Design $25k, we are provided with nothing regarding the balance of $1.250k presumably for " construction" - that is a wide berth.

Coromandel Harbour Facilities - $850,000 allocated in the text above - nothing in the budget, presumably because reality has set in regarding the cost of moving the sediment - both financial and practical, but why can't they get the Plan right?

Economic Development - This is the real doozy - Ben Day's little nest egg that is to be funded through an increase in all our rates of $834K in 2014/15 - about $34 on our UAGC payments, but this is just the beginning - wait till he really gets into stride.

Thames Pool Replacements - $16k for replacement of pool equipment - if this is a replacement, it should not even be in this list.

Brophy's Beach Coastal Erosion Project - $520k allocated out of a total $1.300k over three years for this futile attempt to to emulate Canute. What a waste - residents should be footing the bill - end of story.

Coro Aquaculture Infrastructure Project - $2.566k put on hold - this is the major source of funding for other projects this year, and is realistic. Note that this is supposed to be recovered over time from the farmers - something that may slip out of sight unless kept 'front of mind'. There is a strong sentiment starting with Leach to bend this provision. Keep in mind that mussel production was supposed to double (has it happened?), and the entire finfish project appears to be very much 'on hold'. Another furphy!

Mercury Bay Cemetery This is on 'hold' - it was a total nonsense from day one in view of the burial requirements in that area - Council was bullied into the project by Cr McLean, and a proper needs investigation was never undertaken.

Thames Library Repairs - $500k of urgent repairs again postponed. It is suffering from water ingress, and will fall down before any real action takes place. The Board still dreams of some Business Centre/Library in the centre of town - it will remain a dream I suspect.

Whitianga Green Waste Project - $590k removed in favour of the Refuse Station ($350k this year - eventual cost - $2.3m). So much for the Great Compost Project - how many millions have gone the drain on that particular piece of nonsense, but more important, why is this conclusion being hidden behind the smooth words in the AP.

Thames Community Sports Facility Investigations - My God! - more funding down the drain investigating the priorities and expenditure on these three projects - now $445k is to be allocated this year (was $1m.) This further wastage comes on top of the $200k already spent over the last five years, and still they are no further ahead, but there are consultants hanging off this project like leaches. It all started with the totally futile Zoom Zone - how many years ago? And it now coming through with a Rhodes Park grandstand that does not appear to meet the needs of anyone. The swimming pool replacement (must be on the way by 2020) meanwhile languishes while the argument goes on. I have the distinct feeling that this will go nowhere before the 2016 Election. Diane Connors may get her Skate park, but little else. I have some confidence in stating this because I know that Leach has no enthusiasm for it, and he will have no money to cover it as far as I can see.

Whitianga Town Centre - $3.05m (the other major source of funds for this year) has been "placed under review". Wow - Leach must have leaned on that Board to get agreement for this cut "for the time being" - yeah right!

Wentworth Valley Seal Extension - $930k has been grabbed back from this project that has been Jan and Jack's pet project from day one. There has been some extremely serious 'squeezing' going on evidently on the part of all the Boards to meet Leach's needs - all in 'closed door workshops' of course. 

Resource consents are blamed for the deferral of several other projects totalling over $1m - this needs further investigation - blaming resource consenting is just not credible year on year.

Projects to get an increase include the Kopu to Kaiaua Rail Trail Stage 2 - $1.2k is allowed in the TYP. Readers will be aware from previous posts that the big question remains regarding the legality of TCDC spending money of this nature outside of the District.

The Thames Skate Park is now expected to cost $220k over three years - up from $161k. 

That should provide the basis for a number of questions to be put to the 12/13 May hearings - hopefully someone will take them up and make appropriate submissions -  I will be away in the US for most of the period prior to this, but will remain in daily contact on the blog.   

 

 

 

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