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Monday
Jun202016

Targeted Rates On The Way for Indoor Court

There are strong, and well substantiated rumours of a sudden realisation amongst our councillors that all is not as well on the financial front as they had been led to believe over an extended period of time. 

Public excluded orkshops are under way this week at which time a few home truths are being revealed, while at the same time, the extent of targeted rates to be incorporated in the budgets that will be adopted on 29 June will be examined.

That may come as a shock to some councillors who have gone along with the extraordinarily profligate rate of recent pre-election spending.  In particular, the elaborate system of hand-outs to various favoured groups in the community - $50,000 here, and $30,000 there - all new expenditure that has had to be fitted into budgets, somehow. This has all been devised by the redoubtable deputy Chief Executive Ben Day, who remains at the Economic Development helm.

Thames Community Board will today consider the creation of a substantial targeted rate on every Thames rate-payer to assist with the cost of the outrageous $7m Zoom Zone Indoor Sports Arena - now well on the way to commencement, amidst latent doubts about the ability of staff to manage the project. Add to that the $400k Skate Park, the plans of which were released this week. And more is to come. 

This targeted rate - probably about $20 on your rate bill will come as a great surprise to a considerable number of rate-payers, but I have been warning for several years that this imposition was inevitable. Good luck to all the oldies who are endeavouring to work out just how they will be able to benefit from the facilities, while their swimming pool continues to deteriorate. 

I look forward to the day when a new group of councillors will have the opportunity to dissect the financial shenanigans and reckless planning that have led to the current situation, and analyse the claims of financial probity that have been claimed over a long period by the current administration.

Throwing $250,000 into the Whitianga Medical Centre mix is just the latest unbudgetted outrage. Where on earth do they think this money is coming from? Talk of 2% maximum rate increases are 'out the window' once this and other targeted rates are added to the bill.

Unfortunately, we may expect strenuous efforts to keep factual information from the public record prior to the election - our Council is helped along in this by the complete disinterest of the main-stream media. The departure of the editor of the Hauraki Herald - John Brown, in the face of the recent upheavals in Fairfax and Mediaworks will not help, though even he appeared to ignore what was going on here from his Pukekohe eerie.

I look forward to rate-setiing Annual Plan oon 29 June - much will need to be revealed that will need close analysis.   

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (2)

In the proposed Annual Plan for May 2016 we had factored in a targeted rates imposition as a result of Indoor Stadium of approx $15 per rates bill for operational costs. The cost of the stadium to build was always budgeted to be $4.40 m now inflation adjusted to $4.52m and together with Skate Park and Rhodes Park a total build cost amounting to approx &.$7.2m + inflation adjustments thru to completion by the 18/19 year. The funding of these projects is a mix of local sponsorship, grants i.e lottery and Lions foundation etc , Depreciation Reserves, Thames Urban General Purpose Reserve Account, Retained earnings etc
The targeted rate ( for operational costs) for the Thames ratepayers is now approx $17.00 ( was $15 in the May 2016 annual plan projections) an increase of approx $2 per ratepayer over and above what we public ally consulted on and what was originally in the business case in June 2014 budgets and 2016 annual plan projections . The slight increase is a result of a more prudent decision to retain ownership of the the stadium building with TCDC and some associated costs. We are confident that the 2016/17 " overall" District Rate increase of 1.38 % and 0.64% forecast average rate increase FOR THAMES can be maintained/sustained (after factoring in the stadium build and all operating costs etc) ...... which in my book is a remarkable achievement given that the majority of Thames ratepayers wish to provide the 3 facilities with the Rhodes Park redevelopment next to be done. The challenge will be to keep rate increases to a minimum in the future but a lot of work has gone into our Long Term Plans for Thames to keep rate increases to a minimum.....but we cannot stand still and if we wish our town to to thrive/be prosperous with good fit for purpose facilities catering for a multitude of sports and recreation for our peoples and community, achieving the outcomes and benefits ( i.e physical, mental, youth development , adult activity, justice and less crime etc) then these facilties are integral part of our Towns social & welfare improvements.

Whilst I cannot entirely speak for the other Community Board Area projects and initiatives, Thames ones are extremely important to us and investment in Thames has been sadly neglected in the past...especially in areas of economic development to attract good investment in Industry, business., and tourism,jobs etc....that must change and I will continue to ensure it does! Real economic investment logically should be in Thames /Kopu given the geographic advantage of being one hour from half population of NZ. I am encouraged by the calibre of our new CEO and discussions with him about all of these matters. Their are some major factors which catalyse and encourage this development, especially at Kopu and must be done and maintained!

Managing risk , financial or otherwise is not easy in a local government environment as you well know Bill, but I believe the current Council and community board "Thames "representatives are doing their very best on behalf of our ratepayers......I think their is a positive view with Thames Community Board initiatives from everyone I talk too
We have a large elderly/retired mix of ratepayers in Thames but most I speak with are happy with what we are trying to achieve provided kept within affordable rates environment.....Thames is doing all it can to get the balance right! Still lots to achieve to create better walk, cycle or mobility environment for our town etc. Their is still much to do in these areas as well!
Their is nothing Thames is trying to keep away from Thames ratepayers and I would be horrified if it was......I hope you will be pleased with any future reports on Thames sports projects and or general budgets and iniatives what we are generally trying to achieve.......never saying that we always get it right, nor easy to manage given so many expectations but happy with overall results to date and community feedback extremely positive

The aquatic centre is an important project to scope and we have brought forward the feasibility to be done to 17/18 year in conjunction with Sports Waikato and other stakeholders for a "regional" facility in Thames and also to build on the current momentum and great management behind the running of our current swimming resources, community swim programmes and Pool. This will be a huge challenge but one which is vital for Thames and building of our case and hoping can achieve with modest rate impact....a regional approach is the only affordable one and discussions thus far have been very encouraging.....I also know this is a project dear to your heart Bill....as it is to mine!
Hope this helps
Cheers
Strat Peters
Chair
Thames Community Board

June 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterStrat Peters

Thank you Strat for your reasoned and reasonable response.

I don't accept the arguments you have put forward because I consider that most of what you have proposed and argue for is simply unaffordable in the overall scheme of things. I do not believe that these additional projects and funding schemes can be accomplished without substantial rate increases in due course despite your claims to the contrary, and the manner in which the Long Term Plan has been constructed.

You have information that you claim supports the plans and rate increases that Council aims to adopt on 29 June, but there are many who simply do not believe the assumptions on which they are based. No one is in a position to question these assumptions because of the level of discussion that has taken place behind closed doors.

I could point to the $250,000 that has suddenly materialized to fund the Whitianga Medical Centre. This is typical of the 'now you see it, and now you don't' manner by which rate-payers have been kept in the dark. It is not alone in this regard and is indicative of un-nervingly shonky fiscal arrangements. It is not just me who has completely lost confidence in the efficacy of the Audit, and who thinks that a day of reckoning is not far off.

My feeling is that most of you should consider your position and step aside before that day arrives.

But you know that already.

June 20, 2016 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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