Responses to Council's proposals

Reduce UAGC to 15%:

I support Council's recommendation

Introduce a commercial rates differential:

I do not support Council's recommendation.

I support the idea in principle, but the implementation is far too aggressive.  Changes to differentials should be over far longer timescales, as Auckland is doing.  The effect on commercial ratepayers is punitive.

Targeted rate (resilience):

I do not support Council's recommendation.

The term 'resilience' is ill-defined, and I am not currently confident that the rate would fund 'additional' work.

Targeted rate (city centre):

I do not support Council's recommendation.

The term 'enhancement' is ill-defined, and I am not currently confident that the rate would fund 'additional' work.

Transport network focus:

I do not support Council's recommendation.

The options create a false choice - the right answer is to do both option 2 (increased transport choices for everyone) and option 3 (increase road capacity).

Kerb-side waste:

I do not support Council's recommendation.

I support the idea in principle, but I would like to see its implementation brought forward.  I do not accept that it will take 3 years to implement if the will is there.

The waste charge should not be fixed, but be based on weight and/or volume (the technology is already available) to incentivise waste reduction.

Kerb-side glass:

I do not support Council's recommendation.

The 'new' situation is, according to reports, recycling more glass than the previous.  The focus should be on implementing the full kerb-side service.  This is a panic measure.

Museum:

I do not support Council's recommendation.

I note the Council has failed to price the cost of any alternative museum option. The combined option does not identify the 'museum' cost.

I would consider a (scaled back) combined option as a combined option is the only one to produce a net economic benefit.

Library:

I do not support Council's recommendation.

I cannot support an option which does not consider the future needs of the city.

Tsunami alerts:

I support Council's recommendation.

Elder housing:

I support Council's recommendation.

Funding Tourism BoP:

I would be guided by the response of commercial ratepayers.

Missing...

There are many topics which are not mentioned in the consultation document.

Many become apparent only if you read the full annual plan.

Some of these topics are, I believe, of greater significance than some of the topics consulted on in terms of their financial and/or other impact.

An obvious example from my time on Council was the level of rent charged to Women's Refuge - Cr Leanne Brown took the lead and that was soon sorted.

At the other end of the scale is the deal between property developer Paul Adams and the Council with regard to development rights in Te Tumu.

There is an option for Mr Adams to buy back the rights that he sold to the Council over 10 years ago.

When the deal was originally done, the promise was made to ratepayers by the then CE that the deal would cost them nothing.

Yet when I was on Council, I became aware that ratepayers were paying circa $1 million a year to service the debt that funded the purchase of the rights.

If Councillors are considering not recovering all the costs, then that is a much bigger topic than something like the short-term kerb-side glass collection proposal.

Then there are all the areas of expenditure that are the subject of previous decisions.

I think there is an argument for revisiting some of these in the light of the concerns about the resilience of the city's infrastructure.

Again, when I was on Council, we were given assurances around infrastructure which turned out to be less than reliable.

My point here is that Councillors must ensure they are across all of Council's activities - not just the topics in the Consultation Document, or the agenda of their committee.


 



Waste Management

The headline issue is glass recycling.

I do not support the proposed rates-funded weekly glass collection service.

I believe that the simplest and most cost-effective solution is that all supermarkets and bottle stores should be required by Council to provide free glass collection facilities on site.

This solution is based on the principle of making the 'waste' source responsible for addressing the problem.

It also has the added advantage of not requiring any rate-payer funding.

On the wider issue of waste - the current 'user pays' system does have the advantage of putting a price on waste - whereas the proposed 'Council-led' system does not.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument that the change will produce clear benefits - either to the environment or the people of Tauranga.

Although I do see that it will effectively allow Councillors to increase the city's debt without breaching debt/revenue ratios.

Perhaps that explains the change of position on this issue by some Councillors. 

Tourism

The "billion dollar" headline boasted by Tourism Bay of Plenty is a vanity metric.

It sounds impressive - but what does it really mean?

The truth is that tourism, while big, is not the most productive of industries.

The fundamental question facing Councillors is why should all commercial activity be taxed to support one sector.

I note that the Council does not 'invest' in the Chamber of Commerce.




Notes:

  • Rather than make vague promises, I have outlined on this page my responses to the proposals outlined in Council's 'Consultation Document'.so that you have some idea about where I stand and can cast an informed vote.
  • If you are not familiar with the issues in the Consultation Document, you can download it here:  https://www.tauranga.govt.nz/P..