2018 Tauranga By-Election
The following information was provided by John Robson for the 2018 Tauranga By-Election.
Blue Skies and Heads in the Clouds
The budget has has been driven by a CEO and a group of Councillors who want Tauranga to be an "internationally competitive city" - and who have instructed the staff to develop a budget accordingly.
This ill-defined 'vision' has resulted in conversations that imagine Tauranga competing with Sydney to be the headquarters of a major Australian bank.
And has culminated with a Council Corporate Services function that includes "blue sky thinking" as one of its activities!
In short - the 'vision' has resulted in a budget that is not connected to the reality of Tauranga.
The Councillors need to keep their feet on the ground - and, anyway, we already have real blue skies which is why so many want to come here.
We can start to address this budget-blowing disconnect by simply going back to the vision of the previous long-term plan, which was "successfully managing a growing city".
After all, our reality is that we are one of the fastest growing cities in New Zealand already - and the challenge for our Councillors is to manage that growth successfully.
Which leads to the next step.
Councillors should insist that the principle "growth pays for growth" must be a key component of the management strategy.
I have no doubt that the staff would respond positively to this clear instruction and deliver a budget that is significantly more affordable.
They did in 2015.
This new budget would require trade-offs, but this is why we elect Councillors in the first place.
Their job is to deliver the needs of the city effectively and efficiently.
In my experience, Council is poor at cost management - with its biggest weakness being the repeated failure to include internal and/or overhead costs when budgeting. The worst example of this in my term was the 'Civic Heart' project when a $500,000 budget resulted in a $1.5 million spend - after internal costs were included.