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French Has It Wrong!

At every opportunity, French congratulates the existing Thames Community Board, and subsequently this Council for having removed the historic ability of previous boards/councils to subsidise Thames rates over a long period with regular transfers from TUGPRA, thus allowing the current $2m injection into the Zoom Zone. Dry-Court.

This is simply not the case, even if French believes it having said it so often in meetings, culminating in a  self-gratulatory dissertation today, that was missed by Strat Peters - he even backed up French to add insult to injury.

The separation was undertaken during the drafting of the 2010/11 Annual Plan by the 2007/10 Board and Council prior to the 2010 Election because it and it alone believed the subsidy no longer ethical or sustainable. I know becasue I was there.

Just a small issue, but important as we go into the next election - it is a good idea for a prospective Mayor to get his facts right.




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Reader Comments (7)

To be precise Bill the TUGPRA account was never intended to be used to subsidise rates, it just happens that a [past] council employee figured out a way to get Parks & Reserves activities paid out of the TUGPRA, which no one on the Thames Community Board knew about. That effectively was a subsidy on Thames rates. It is said there may have been a few other staff initiated] items billed against the account. For some time the account was used as a cash cow for local projects and no one ever seemed to know exactly how much was in the account. The use of the fund for gardening did have the effect of keeping Thames rates down. The originators of the Zoom Zone project has as much trouble as anyone finding out what was in the fund. Certainly the Thames Community Board had been asking for a statement of account [ and not getting one ] for about 20 years. There are minutes thet confirm this. It was convenient to accept that TUGPRA would provide for this and that and not get too pedantic about the details. Your council got a balance figure, but no clear analysis of what had been a convenient slush fund. The 'subsidy' ended because staff realised/accepted it could not be allowed to continue. I've often wondered what pet [staff] projects that money was being used for. 'Parks & Reserves' covers a lot. Peter French is just reciting dogma. He wasn't there and knows no better. At least now raiding the TUGPRA is being done in the open.

June 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterThe Elephant

Up until the introduction of district wide charging for wastewater, the TUGPRA account was used to subsidise Thames wastewater which became cheap as chips.

Seems to me that it was a bad option to change any of that as everyone in the Thames ward benefited equally then and the fund was removed from being available for bribery for office.

And everyone knows what district wide charging for wastewater did to Thames.......

June 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSsh don't tell anyone

The TUGRA account was a slush fund like no other. Initially it was only for the benefit of the 'old' Thames Borough area [ acording to the Trust deed] --but the area of benefit was enlarged to include the whole current Thames ward.
No way can Peters or French claim to have stablised the ship and bought it all back on line--that took place long before Strat was chair [and he knows that] -- back in the days of Denis HODGSON. Staff must cringe at some of the utterances made and Strat needs to acknowledge that whilst the some changes had to be made regarding maintenance of reserves etc. in the past few years, the initial desire to remove the subsidy goes back to the 'previous' board.

I would suggest that The Elephant is correct in every respect but one - the change in 2010 was initiated from the Board after some fairly lame excuses and explanations from staff who appeared as ignorant as we were as to origins and treatment over the years. I can well remember the discussion where we accepted that there would be electoral repercussions as the result of the substantially higher rate increase that resulted - Baker spelt it out and we accepted it as inevitable, but the main motivation, apart from doing what was right, was the accumulation over time time that would enable a new pool to be built - the long forgotten 2020 deadline having been emphasised.
Unfortunately Mary Hamilton had other ideas, and with quiet determination finangled the Zoom Zone claim on the fund.
What really concerns me now is that I can see French laying a claim for the balance for his beloved footy club's grandstand and club rooms. I just hope that there is sufficient resistance when that time comes. And don'r rely on Strat now that he having another go at Council - he simply lay down and let Mary walk right over him having earlier committed to the Pool.
Such is life in a small town!

June 30, 2016 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

For the benefit of everyone reading this I will explain some background behind what TUGPRA special fund is
The TUGPR (Thames Urban General Purpose Reserve) and EFLR (Endowment Farms Revenue) are two sources of funding in the Thames area the origins of which can be traced back to the earliest versions of the current form of Council.

The EFLR results from farms within the Hauraki District that were endowed to the Council by the Crown with the lease revenue to be credited to activities within the then Borough of Thames. This revenue had in the past been credited to the TUGPR, but from 1998 to 2011 had been credited against the Thames Parks and Reserves activity to reduce the rating requirement for the activity back in 1998 when Thames was under a lot of pressure to keep rates at a minimum. Due to a recent rent reviews this income is currently approximately $250,000 per annum (It is important to note that this income is not a fixed annual amount and is subject to change).

The TUGPR resulted from the sale of the old Thames abattoir, milk factory, and power company shares, with the proceeds being held in a reserve for use within the physical area corresponding to the former Thames Borough. Today, the TUGPR is a substantial reserve with a current balance of approximately $1.6 million and has been used to fund various project facilities ( i.e Thames Library building ) works within the Thames area over the years. There is no similar financial reserve in any other Ward within the District.

Over the course of time with changes in the structure of Council and elected representatives a number of assumptions have been made concerning "ownership", administration, decision making and delegations for the EFLR and TUGPR accounts. Whilst I wont attempt to explain these complicated and past processes to you previous and current Thames Community Boards have now some certainty around what the funds were intended to be used for specific to Thames Ward facilities like a new swimming pool, Thames Library building, Thames Indoor Court facility, Rhodes Park upgrade etc

Strategic Fit
The TUGPR and EFLR are historical special 'reserves' and did not concisely fit with the 1998 decision to use the funds to go towards local Parks and Reserve activities and one of the recommendations to Council following the establishment of a new Policy and Thames Endowment Farm Land Special Reserve in 2009 thru to 2011,, the Endowment Farm lease revenue be reallocated to the newly created reserve at the rate of 1/3 per year for 3 years from the Parks and Reserves Activity.
Moved/Seconded By: Strat Peters/ Bill Barclay

Bill is right in saying that the first steps to initiate this change was in November 2009. My apologies if seems that this was this was overlooked when supporting statements made by Peter French at our recent Council meeting on the 29th June, but the effort which had gone into the changes by the 2009 and current TCB to provide for much needed Thames Facilities had been immense and has led to us being able to improve sporting facilities for Thames as we are now doing

Discussions have ensued regarding project priorities that may require TUGPRA funding.

As you know the 3 main projects currently included in the Ten Year Plan are:
a. Dry court facilities
b. Rhodes Park Complex
c. Swimming Pool
The next project is the Rhodes Park upgrade and the Dry Court will commence construction shortly
In our Ten Year Plan we provided for TUGPRA use for the Indoor Stadium, we do not intend to use the TUGPRA reserve for Rhodes park, but have now ring fenced lease revenue to for a new aquatic centre in Thames but also realising that if we are going to succeed with the funding of this much needed facility in the future we will require" regional" support and funding as well. A mix of funding goes into establishing all of these facilties, namely Grants ( i.e lottery funds), local sponsorship and support, corporate sponsorship, Local Government funding etc

Our as local representatives on TCDC will be to keep on providing for these facilities with minimal impact on rates and to date the impact is minor ands we must contain any rate increases to inflation levels only. It requires a lot of planning and we are lucky to have such a fund as TUGPRA to help us.The challenge is to keep it so and provide for the social, cultural and health of our community to good & affordable levels

For myself I am simply trying to do the job of providing for Thames to be a good place for all its residents to live, bring up their families, and have opportunity for employment and jobs etc. All of these things are in pour mix and proud of current achievments

It wasn't until 2011 that Council resolved as follows

Key Discussion Points
• To be phased in over three years to lessen the impact on the Thames rates.
• The fund forms a base for projects undertaken in Thames.
• Current annual lease revenue is approximately $250,000 per annum.
That the Thames-Coromandel District Council:
1. Receives the report.
2. Determines that it believes it has complied with the decision-making provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 to the extent necessary in relation to this decision; and in accordance with the provisions of Section 79 of the Act determines that it does not require further information prior to making a decision on this matter.
3. Approves the 'Criteria for Use' recommended by the Thames Community Board at its 2 May 2011 meeting.
4. Approves in principle the reallocation of Endowment Farm Lease Revenue from the Thames Parks & Reserves activity to the Thames Urban General Purpose Reserve by amending the draft Revenue and Financing Policy and consulting on the proposed change through the draft 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan.
5. Approves that the Chief Executive seeks the permission of the Minister of Local Government to use the Endowment Farm Lease Revenue for a different purpose - that is for the benefit of the entire Thames Ward (so as to be aligned with current Ward boundaries).

Thanks to you Bill, 2009 TCB and Current TCB

July 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterStrat Peters

Thanks Strat - I can't argue with any of that - good research!
Preservation of the fund for the benefit of all, or at least the majority of Thames residents is paramount.
The break from subsidising rates was critical, and I am glad to see that it was you & I who moved the motion - I had thought it was Adrian & I.
It is such a bonus for us, but I am afraid that income will go down as lease rentals catch up with lowered values.
A separate annual accounting is really essential - something that has been as hard as hell to extract from staff.
Let us put it to rest in the meantime!

July 1, 2016 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

After reading what 'Strat' has written all I can say is: Strat for Mayor.

July 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterYeah Nah

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