Population, or Perish!
Monday, January 26, 2015 at 5:06PM
Bill Barclay

Before delving into the financials, can I suggest to take a close look at the following statements that constitute the population criteria on which the LTP is based.

Population change

 Knowing where and how the population of the Thames-Coromandel District is changing is a key factor in our long term planning. Different demographic groups have different needs and preferences. These changes are a key driver of the need for any expansion of current services or need for new services; they also drive the timing and approach to our infrastructure management which is responsible for approximately 64% of our costs. Lastly, these changes are critical to our understanding of affordability and the willingness of ratepayers to pay for these services. (my bold!)

Resident population

The Thames-Coromandel District has long attracted those retiring from the nearby metropolitan and farming areas which means an overall aging residential population. In 2013 the proportion of people aged 65 and over made up around 27% of the usually resident population. This is nearly twice the national average (14%). This trend is projected to continue, with the proportion of people aged 65 and over expected to increase to over 40% of the usually resident population by 2045. (my bold!)

In general, the incomes of residents of the District are lower than for New Zealand as a whole. In 2013, 43% of people in the Thames-Coromandel District aged 15 years and over received personal income of less than $20,000, compared to 38% across New Zealand. As our population ages over the next 10 years, more of our residents are likely to be on lower, fixed incomes.

The income levels of the residents of the District are part of the picture in assessing whether our costs of activities (and rates) are affordable. While we have a higher than average number of residents on low incomes, a balancing trend is that their rate of home ownership is much higher than average at 70% (including those owned in family trusts) compared to 55% across New Zealand. Likewise, while information about the income levels of nonresident ratepayers is not captured, their rate of home ownership is likely to be significantly higher than average.

Population Change

Population projections indicate that the usually resident population of the Thames-Coromandel District as a whole, is anticipated to increase slowly over the next 10 years, with an expected net increase of around 30 people per year. The rate of growth is projected to slow slightly beyond the ten years.

In terms of geographic spread of growth, the majority of the growth is expected to occur in the Mercury Bay and Coromandel-Colville Community Board areas with the usually resident population projected to decrease in other parts of the District.

The usually resident population of the Mercury Bay Community Board area is expected to increase by around 0.8% or 62 people per year and the Coromandel-Colville Community Board area is expected to increase by around 0.3% or 8 people per year.

The population in the other community board areas is projected to decline; Tairua-Pauanui by around -0.5% or a loss of 12 people per year, Thames by -0.1% or a loss of about 15 people per year and Whangamata by -0.3% or a loss of around 14 people per year. These results are consistent with recent trends.

Then consider for one moment the capital works proposals for the town of Thames starting with the $450,000 Skate Park, then the $7m Indoor Stadium and the million dollar grandstand for Rhodes Park. Does any of this suggest a 'dis-connect' of staggering proportion? Or has our Council decided that the demographics of Thames suggest 'oldies' need to be pushed into these facilities as a form of geriatric abuse on top of having to pay for them. 

And this lends support to my earlier statement that the raft of new staff in the Castle comprise a bunch of people more interested in continuing the 'gravy train' than actually providing facilities that this town needs? And meanwhile our backstop reserve comprising the TUGPRA Account is to be decimated by the young go-getters who comprise the Zoom-Zone lobby group.

It only remains to implement Strat's favourite "three-light-set" on Queen Street to complete the total madness that has prevailed since the advent of this new Council and Community Board four years ago, and the subsequent employment of high-flying consultants to undertake a completely futile exercise on "what this town needs." Their "gateway" and "traffic light" Report will go down in history as the epitome of local government foolhardiness, and everyone associated with its production should hang their heads in shame.     




Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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