Short Meeting!
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 1:33PM
Bill Barclay

As predicted in the previous post, the meeting was all over by 12.30. The Long Term Plan - the most important financial document in any term of Council was disposed of in 15 minutes, and ten minutes of that comprised back-slapping and self congratulation by Leach and his sidekick - Hammond. That works out at 30 seconds per year. Not bad eh!

In other words, the entire document and all its papers were dealt with in closed door workshops that are supposed to be used for the purpose of clarification and explanation - not debate! This practice, that has become the prevalent means by which to conduct the business of this Council is abhorrent and probably contrary to the intent of the Act, but is apparently being followed in a number of councils where governance, and media interest is weak or non-existent, like ours! I can only assume in the absence of any other media for over twelve months that this procedure is adopted for the benefit of yours truely, and perhaps Robert Jeffares.

What emerged during the course of the comments by Hammond was that the $46m (not $40m as I earlier stated) transfer of liability from developers to rate-payers is not being absorbed into rates until 2020 - the year following the 2019 election. There is therefore no need to 'frighten the horses' before then - it will continue to be carried as 'internal debt', that will reduce by about $10m per year from 2020, through rates. That explains the discrepancy in the projected rate increases. 

One other new trick that Hammond revealed was the intention to only include projects in the Plan on which a 'project document' (business case) has been 'approved.' The major item in this regard is the $15m Thames Pool Renewal Project - previously placed outside the 2012/22 LTP in 2023. They have avoided having to rate for this in the current 2015/25 Plan by simply adopting this convenient new 'rule' - it is in this manner that they have kept the projected rate increases within bounds - a tricky device, and quite possibly contrary to the requirements of the Act. This is self-serving and dangerous methodology - dangerous because it is just too easy for essential future projects to slip out of sight, and means that no prior provision can be made.

Clearly, current councillors wish to see no hindrance to their future re-election prospects by designating 2020 to commence rating for the 'internal debt'.  That should ensure their seats until 2022, unless Alzheimer's or Dementia intervenes!   

What Thames rate-payers need to remember is that the decision to change to 'District' charging of Waste-water in 1991 (Moved Sharp/ Seconded Barriball) was based on the knowledge that the $48m that ended up at 'Internal Debt' was to be paid by developers through Development Contributions. This raises the question - would they so willingly have adopted District charging over Area of Benefit had they known that in 2015, our Council would 'cop-out' on the DCs and create this additional liability on all rate-payers, including Thames for the Eastern Seaboard Waste-water Scheme?

If I may be so bold - of course they wouldn't! And why? - because it is totally unfair on Thames rate-payers whose cheap and cheerful scheme costs bugger-all both on capex and opex, and which has an equally elastic life out to well beyond 2040.  In other words Thames rate-payers will be paying another $400 each from 2020 on their rates specifically to further fund the Eastern Seaboard schemes - what is fair about that? They already pay through the nose for these schemes, thanks to Messrs Sharp and Barriball. And then they will be hit up for the swimming pool from 2023 knowing full well that Eastern Seaboard councilors will fight tooth and nail against any levy for this purpose on their rates bills. 

Think about it!

 

Update on Friday, January 30, 2015 at 11:52AM by Registered CommenterBill Barclay

By the way - Goudie was again absent - I am beginning to detect a severance process under way - evident ever since her dumping from the District Plan Committee, and the abolishment of her Policy Committee - just a gut feeling! On the other hand - she could well be biding her time in order to take a run at the Mayoralty - now that could be interesting, even if an even greater disaster than we already face.  Happy days!

 

 

 

Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
See website for complete article licensing information.