Tagged: Golden Bay

Community development meeting (29 October)

The community development committee meeting was held on 29 October 2015. All councillors were present.

The agenda included: (1) chairs report, (2) community development (managers) activity report, (3) reserves and facilities work plan, (4) library (manager) activity report, and (5) customer services (manager) activities report. A presentation was received from the Moutere Hills community centre. A late item was also received, relating to the appointment of a hearing panel to consider Fearons Bush lease application.

Most of the reports were information only updates, with a decision required for the appointment of councillors to the Wakefield and Mapua district health centres and hearing panel. All rather straight forward.

There were no presentations from the public forum.

Minutes

While the open meeting minutes (for the 17 September 2015 meeting) were approved, I proposed the addition of the following words to the minutes of the (in committee) agenda item relating to Rainbow Ski field (which was subsequently made public by resolution). The additional words were:

In response to repeated questions regarding the estimated cost of generating subsequent reports, Mr Tregurtha advised that the estimated cost of generating a report, similar to the one before council, would be approximately $10,000 per report.

I proposed this addition because there was no reference in the in-committee minutes to the cost of reports – which was a material element in the (cost\benefit) debate about whether council should remit the outstanding loans. Usually changes to the minutes are accepted without much debate. However, in this instance they were placed on the wide screen for general discussion after returning from morning tea.

After returning from morning tea, I noticed that the words “repeatedly” and “per report” were removed from the above sentence. I noted their absence and was informed that: (1) the word “repeatedly” was not normally used, and (2) the manager disputed that it was $10,000 per report, but instead $10,000 for all subsequent reports.

My memory of the discussion, was the staff member was asked repeatedly what the cost of the report before council was, given he had suggested it would be the same cost for each of the subsequent reports. I also questioned that conclusion, because any subsequent reports would surely have leveraged off the report currently before council. However, staff remained adamant that their assessment of costs was correct.

With the chairs support, the manager asked that my proposed addition to the minutes be deferred until the next community development meeting, so that the staff member (currently on leave) could be consulted.

Chairs report

Golden Bay (Takaka) recreation centre

I do not usually discuss the chairs report as there is not much in them. However, I did want to take the opportunity to confirm if $400,000 of in-kind contributions were received, before the tender to construct the Golden Bay recreation centre was authorised. I had asked this question, as it did not appear to have been disclosed in any reports.

By way of brief background, the tender could not be approved until the community had secured an $800,000 contribution. At the last community development meeting, the committee had approved the receipt of a $400,000 in kind contribution (supported by written promissory notes).

The chair confirmed that a binding $400,000 in-kind contribution had been received in writing, so that the community had successfully met its total contribution of $800,000.

Councillor updates

Councillors were invited to provide updates of interest or other matters. I raised two matters:

  • New Zealand Initiative – creating regional prosperity. I advised the committee that I had attended the New Zealand Iniitiative’s launch of their report called “In the Zone: Creating a Toolbox for regional prosperity” on 19 October 2015 in Wellington (at no cost to ratepayers). The report made for interesting reading with one of the main recommendations suggesting the creation of special economic zones to promote growth in the regions. A copy of the document can be located at http://nzinitiative.org.nz/site/nzinitiative/files/In%20the%20Zone%20WEB.pdf (see also TV One’s Q&A item at www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0fQlI_gPjw).
  • Trans-Tasman Golf and Croquet Test Series. I advised council that I had been invited to attend the opening of the inaugural Trans-Tasman Golf and Croquet Test Series being held in Nelson on 20 November 2015. Another national event being held in the region, that has great potential.

Community development activity report

The report provided the following highlights:

  • Wakefield and Maoua health centres: The Wakefield health centre will be changing to an incorporated trust and the need for a council representative will no longer be required. Accordingly, at the time that the trust is formed Cr Bryant will no longer be a liaison representative. Cr Norris was reappointed the liaison representative for the Mapua health centre.
  • Aquatic centre: For the July 2015 period, number were down from the same time last year. Total patronage was 22,900 (including 5563 visits for the gym). I asked that comparative data for the 2014 to 2012 periods also be provided in reports, so that council can be aware of any trends.
  • Golden Bay recreation centre: Three design and build tenders were received. Tenders were subject to a weighted attributes scoring system. Gibbons Construction was awarded the contract subject to a few minor modifications. Construction is expected to start in February 2016.
  • Community relations: Christmas events are currently being planned. A guide to summer services is being scoped. An event was held at Easby park in Richmond (near Selbourne Avenue) as part of the “in your neighbourhood” pilot programme (see http://nelsonlive.co.nz/news/2015/11/neighbourhood-event-success/). I attended this event and had the opportunity to talk with a number of residents. As well as welcome a few new residents to the Richmond community.

I noted in the chair’s report that “all three tenders that were received were of a very high standard and within budget”. Accordingly, I asked the question, whether the lowest cost option per square metre had been selected by the tenders panel, or whether other considerations were taken into account?

I was advised that the lowest cost per square metre tender had not been selected as the successful tender, and that other weighted considerations (outlined in the tender document) were also taken into consideration when selecting the successful tender. In my opinion, council should have opted for the lowest cost per square metre option, and worked with the tenderer to make minor modifications so as to improve the layout of the centre. This would not have been hard to do. And if those suggestions had increased costs, they could have fallen back on the next best priced tender.

I also asked whether any savings from the construction project would be apportioned on a contributor basis (council contributed $3.2 million and ratepayers $800,000). I was advised that any savings would be apportioned on such a basis, should they arise.

Reserves and facilities work plan

The report provided a summary of the department’s work plan for reserves. For Richmond, this included: (1) new training lights at Jubilee park, (2) updated equipment at Chelsea Avenue park, (3) investigation of new toilets at Ben Cooper park, (4) new signage at Richmond cemetery, (5) new mountain bike tracks at Dellside reserve, (6) repainting of Busch reserve toilets, (7) Saxton field projects (including Avery toilets and the velodrome). Plus an upgrade of all reserve lighting to LEDs.

I raise my concerns over the replacement of the Chelsea Avenue park equipment. In my opinion, there did not appear to be any equipment in need of replacement (see photos below). However, if there was, then I suggested that the park was adequately provided for and that any damaged equipment should be removed, rather than replaced. I also asked staff to be kept in the loop in regard to any proposed work in this area. Staff advised that an audit report had identified issues. I requested a copy of the report, amnd and at the time of writing this report, I am still waiting for a copy. In the interim I have circulated photos of the park equipment to Richmond ward councillors. In my opinion, the equipment is fine and in the words of one local mother “all it needs is a lick of paint and some oil”. I agree.

Playground equipment is not cheap. In my opinion, council is very quick to spend ratepayer funds on upgrading equipment, when it does not need replacement. Similar problems were identified with the manner in which our roads were re-sealed or upgraded. Savings have since been made in the roads team, through smarter management of assets.

I also wonder if playgrounds (and their equipment) should be consolidated. Council spends a lot of money maintaining the numerous pocket parks council has acquired over the years. Some parks are only separated by streets. For example Norm Large Park is across the road from Ben Cooper, and Chelsea Avenue Park is a mere 3 min walk from Ben Cooper. Consolidating parks would enable funds to be used in the acquisition of larger parks or retire debt. Consolidating parks would also reduce maintenance costs.

Pictures of Chelsea Avenue park equipment

IMG_0927 IMG_0928 IMG_0929 IMG_0930 IMG_0931 IMG_0932 IMG_0933 IMG_0934 IMG_0935 IMG_0936 IMG_0937 IMG_0938 IMG_0939 IMG_0940

Library activity report

The report provided the following highlights:

  • RFID installation: A new issuing and stock management system (currently bar codes) will be completed by June 2016. The new technology will enable more efficient management of stock as well as the provision of new online services.
  • Personalised service:  A new service that offers one-on-one help for customers using library resources (mainly computer or online resources) has begun.
  • Events: September and october events included technology workshops and school holiday programmes.
  • Key statistics: visitor numbers (110,479)  were 2.7% lower in September 2015, than the same time last year (mainly in Motueka). Online visits continue to increase (5,943 visits) 10.4%, than the same time last year. Issued items (52,971 items) in September increased 2.4% compared to the same time last year. Total issues for the year (162,331) increased 1.9% compared to last year. Physical audio items increased 1.3% for the July to September period. Takaka and Motueka increasing by 3.5%, and Richmond decreasing 2.2%. Ebook and e-audio items (3,744) increased 39% for the quarter (and now comprise 2% of total library issues). Active members total 23,516.

Customer services activities report

The customer services team provide phone and reception counter support. The teams work for the period 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015 is illustrated below. This included converting a paper based system to a digital process (utilising Manymaps software for LIM reports).

Request for service and land information (1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015)

ComDev20151029-CustServ1

A recent review of the team structure and functions has involved a shift towards a more flexible work approach between normal customer service work and property (land information) records. This has resulted in team members from customer services team undertaking scanning work (for the records team) when they are not undertaking normal customer service duties.

Moutere Hills community centre

Council were advised that the addition of the community fitness centre (fully funded by the community) had exceeded participation expectations, with 119 active members as at 14 October 2015 (see www.mouterehills.org.nz).

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/community-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CommunityServicesCommittee/2015/2015-10-29.

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Environment and planning committee and extraordinary full council meeting (16 July)

The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 16 July 2015. Apologies were received from Crs Bryant, Edgar, and Mirfin. All other councillors were present.

The agenda included: (1) Golden Bay (Mohua) landscape project, (2) resource consent manager’s report, (3) contact recreation water quality annual report, (4) dog control policy and practices report, and (5) the manager’s report. Presentations were also received from the public and are briefly summarised below. At the conclusion of this meeting, an extraordinary full council meeting was also held. This is discussed below.

Public forum

The public forum received presentations from: (1) Gillian Bishop and Kevin McClintock on the importance of the Waimea inlet, and (2) Liz Thomas and Petra Stephenson regarding a rural land use petition that was tabled.

Golden Bay (Mohua) Landscape Project

The final report on the Golden Bay/Mohua Landscape Project was received from the small group. The rthe final report describes and evaluates 6 outstanding natural landscapes (ONLs), and 10 outstanding natural features (ONFs) in Golden Bay (Mohua) area. The draft (and final) reports are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/tasman/projects/environmental-projects/golden-bay-landscape-project/. At the time of writing this post, the final report had not yet been uploaded. It is expected to be uploaded once council has considered it as part of a plan change consultation workshop.

Changes to the draft report include a more detailed description of the qualities of the ONLs andONFs and a clearer narrative explaining how the Small Group came to its view in relation to each ONL and ONF. The biggest change from the draft report is a reduction in the number of ONFs. Many of them are now included within ONLs.

I took the opportunity to congratulate the small group for their efforts. It was always going to be a difficult process that had caused a great deal of robust discussion (and tension) amongst the group. I thanked them for their efforts in having that debate on behalf of the public.

Council resolved to support option 1 in the agenda, and hold a workshop in September 2015 in preparation for a draft plan change and public consultation on the proposed designations in early 2016.

The reasons for the project are summarised at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/tasman/projects/environmental-projects/golden-bay-landscape-project/golden-bay-landscapes-project-plan/. Essentially, its a statutory obligation of council.

Resource consents

The manager’s report presented a summary of the resource consents team performance for the 2014-15 year. A total of 1,319 applications were lodged, with 38 being withdrawn or cancelled, and 56 incomplete applications being returned. A total of 1,097 applications were completed.

Of the 1,097 applications completed 7 hearings were required. Of the 69 publicly or limited notified applications, 7 were able to be granted without a hearing because all issues were resolved.

Applications Lodged During 2014-2015 Year

Category 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15

Certificate of Compliance

2

10

6

4

7

3

Coastal

20

21

16

55

36

17

Discharge

124

202

133

152

171

231

Water

61

247

134

173

189

349

Land Use District

431

478

548

474

438

480

Land Use Regional

141

31

42

35

36

39

Designation

10

4

0

2

0

5

Outline Plan

19

15

14

6

8

15

Subdivision

188

137

151

120

130

131

Rights of Way

9

13

8

6

12

12

Totals 1,005 1,158 1,052 1,027 1,027 1,319

A total of 484 (45%) of all resource consent applications completed, had time extensions applied, 70% of those at the request of or with agreement from the applicants. 41% of non-notified applications had time extensions applied in the 2014-2015 year, compared with 24% in 2013-2014. 80% of the notified applications completed during 2014-2015 had time extensions applied, compared with 70% in 2013-2014.

For the 2014-2015 year, there were 7 non-notified applications involving 12 consents that were completed out of time, resulting in 7 fee discounts. These discounts totalled $3,000 excluding GST (compared with $436 in 2011-12, and $3,000 in 2012-13 years).

Timeliness of Non-notified Applications

NonNotified2015

Timeliness of Public and Limited Notified Applications

PublicNotified2015

Contact Recreation Water Quality Annual Report

Tasman District Council has monitored swimming holes and coastal beaches since the mid 1990s in accordance with national guidelines and responsibilities under s 35 of the Resource Management Act. A total of 11 sites (7 freshwater and 4 marine) were sampled for faecal indicator bacteria between November 2014 and March 2015.

There were a total of 11 exceedances of national guidelines, out of a total of 221 samples taken. All marine sites except Pohara were fully compliant this season in all weather.

Pohara Beach exceeded four times in dry weather. After sampling at a total of 4 sites along Pohara beach it was found that the beach water contamination originated from the Pohara Creek plume and that it only spread as far west as the campground boat ramp at worst. Pohara Creek was confirmed as a potential source of this contamination in 2005-2006 and again this season.

A sanitary survey was successfully undertaken over the 2006-07 summer. A significant faecal discharge was discovered and the household’s sewerage system was repaired to ensure it connected with the municipal system in 2006.

In 2015, sewage and stormwater pipes from several key properties were dye tested and sewer lines inspected. No obvious source of faecal contamination was found. The source of contamination remains unknown. Staff will be taking a fresh approach to testing in 2016.

Laboratory costs of around $12,000 made up the vast majority of the annual budget apart from staff time and vehicle running costs. Summer student employees do most of the fieldwork required.

Coastal beach locations

WaterQuality2015_1

Red results are over alarm levels (>280 Enterococci/100ml) and orange results are in the alert range (140-280 Enterococci/100ml).

Freshwater locations

WaterQuality2015_2

Red results are over alarm levels (>550 E. coli/100ml) and orange results are in the alert range (260-550 E. coli/100ml).

Sampling results (and locations) are displayed on a council webpage located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/environment/water/swimming-water-quality/.

Results for toxic algae monitoring in the regions rivers in are displayed on the councils webpage located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/framework/main.php/water/rivers/river-water-quality/monitoring-toxic-algae/?url=/environment/water/rivers/river-water-quality/monitoring-toxic-algae/.

Dog Control Policy and Practices

The Council reviewed its Dog Control Policy and Bylaw in 2014 adopting the Dog Control Policy 2014 and Dog Control Bylaw 2014 on the 18 September 2014.

Number of dog owners in the district is 6,778 (including probationary owners 1, disqualified owners 0). The number of registered dogs in the district is 10,391(comprising rural dogs 5,663 and urban dogs 4,728).

The number of dogs classified as dangerous was 9. The number of dogs classified as menacing was 68. A toital of 119 infringement notices were issued. The report provides a detailed summary of the types of complaints received by council.

Recently, dog control services had put out for tender and awarded to Control Services Nelson Ltd.

30 June 2015 was the deadline for registrations. At the time of the report, 70% of dogs had been registered. Penalties for late registration would be added in August.

Overall, dog control appears good, with very few incidents considering the number of dogs and dog owners in the region.

Manager’s report

Highlights of the report include:

  • Aquaculture. The Ministry of Primary Industries announced (on 5 June 2015) 2011 ha of new space available for aquaculture in the region. Council will need work with iwi and marine farmers to identify and allocate 20% of the space, as part of the settlement of Maori claims to commercial aquaculture.
  • National Environmental Standard on Plantation Forestry. The new standards propose standardising RMA rules for forestry activities across the country. In my opinion, while this might be beneficial for large forestry operations that cross a number of different regions (with different rules and plans), it fails to reflect the different environmental conditions of those different regions – which is the basis of the concept of sustainable development and management (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/71259064/nelson-city-council-submits-to-national-forestry-standards and http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/70328763/forestry-standards-will-harm-regions-biodiversity). Staff were asked to draft a submission on the proposal.
  • Water quality advisory groups. Waimea Flag and Takaka Flag have released its overall water management objectives for feedback. The Waimea Flag group is currently focussing on understanding more about potential changes to nitrate leaching under different land use patterns and the effect this has on the aquifer water quality in relation to the drinking water standards. Councilors raised questions over costs and staff undertook to report back on the issue.
  • Low impact design. On 2 June, a discussion workshop was held in Takaka about what is commonly referred to as low impact design (LID) standards for land development and its relevancy to the Rural Land Use and Subdivision Draft Plan Change 54. Crs Bouillir and Ensor were in attendance.
  • Development contribution refunds. Refunds are to be made to those people who paid contributions now that Coastal Tasman pipeline project has been removed from the LTP. The sum of the refunds is $915,967 and the credits total a further $37,442.
  • Dam safety regulations. The Government has decided that dam safety is better suited to being managed under the Resource Management Act (RMA) rather than the Building Act. Accordingly, the Building (Dam Safety) Regulations 2008 have been revoked under the Building (Dam Safety) Revocation Order 2015, with effect from 30 June 2015.
  • Spa pool exemption. Section 6 of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act allows the council to allow an exemption from fencing by way of resolution where the exemption would not significantly increase the level of danger. Staff consider that spa pools with lockable covers would comply with the exemption test. In the spirit of removing unnecessary red tape, council resolved to provide an exemption from fencing a spa pool with a lockable lid.
  • Water data. The Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) web site has recently been upgraded to include real-time data on river flow, groundwater and rainfall levels at over 1000 sites around New Zealand (see http://www.lawa.org.nz).
  • Air quality. Only 2 exceedences of the National Environmental Standard occured this winter in the Richmond.
  • House insultation rates subsidy. The Council has been operating the Warm Tasman Voluntary Targeted Rate (VTR) scheme programme since 2010. This programme enabled home owners to apply for a voluntary rate on their property that paid for the costs of upgrading insulation or upgrading a wood burner in the Richmond Airshed. The number of applications had dropped away over the last few years to 14 in 2014-15 (20 applications in 2013-14). Staff recommended terminating the scheme. The basis for this was the cost of administering the scheme. In my opinion, the argument was unconvincing. Numbers had dropped away, which meant very little time was actually spent on administering the scheme. On this basis, there seemed to be little gained in terminating the scheme. The majority of council resolved to terminate the scheme.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2015/2015-07-16.

Extraordinary full council meeting

The meeting was a result of a request under section 2.15 of standing orders. The meeting was to discuss the full council’s prior decision to dispose of the portable seating on 18 June 2015. I was not present at that meeting as I was in the UK attending my brothers wedding. However, I was intrigued to see another instance of councillors re-litigating earlier decisions of council. This discussion was confidential as was the discussion on 18 June 2015. Although I really could not see why it could not have been held in public.

The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2015/2015-07-16.

Community development committee (19 June)

The community development committee meeting was held on 19 June 2014. Apologies were received from Cr Higgins and myself.

The meeting agenda received various managers reports as well as an update on the Ecofest expo. I have organised these various updates under topic rather than the manager providing them.

Golden Bay Service centre

A decision on funding for the centre was made in the annual plan. However, council were asked to convene a hearing panel to consider changing the classification of land behind the centre from reserve vested land to local purpose reserve land. This was to ensure the use of the land could have a wider civic purpose. Crs Edgar, Sangster, and Bouillir were appointed to the hearing panel. The council noted the Golden Bay Community Board’s recommendation for up to $30,000 to be allowed for seismic testing.

Tapawera and Brightwater reserve lease hearings

Crs Bryant, Norris, and Edgar were appointed as panel members to consider the publicly notified reserve lease applications of: (1) the Tapawera Menz Shed Group, who sought to renew a lease of reserve land that the former Scout hall building was located on, and (2) the Wanderers Rugby Club who sought to extend their building over reserve land. However, if no public submissions are received, then hearings would not be required.

Kina leases

The council has advised those parties wishing to lease parts of the Kina reserve of any restrictions council has sought to impose on the use of the reserve. We await a response.

Brook sanctuary

The agreement between the council and the sanctuary trust over the council’s financial contribution towards the pest proof fence was signed. This completed the earlier contribution from council towards completion of the fence. In my opinion, without the second installment, the earlier contribution would have been wasted. It is also noted that half of the trusts financial members come from the Tasman region so this was an activity where a sizeable proportion of the community had skin in the game. As discussed in earlier posts, the trust had reassured council that no further requests for funding would be forthcoming.

ASB Aquatic centre – water treatment

Staff advised council that the option of purchasing an ultra violet (UV) treatment system to destroy chloramines (that would improve the pool atmosphere and reduce water waste), would be prepared for consideration in the 2015-2025 long term plan (LTP).

LTP workshops for councilors were being prepared for late June and July, and these would feed into formal proposals for consideration. Generally, I have found workshops are a great opportunity to wrestle over the issues, although they do not always provide the opportunity to think outside the square.

Youth council

Crs King and Bryant were respectively appointed as liaisons for the Waimea and Murchison youth councils. Crs Canton and Bouillir were respectively appointed liaisons for the Motueka and Golden Bay youth councils.

Community grants

Grants close on 31 August and are allocated to organisations that run activities that support the councils community outcome goals. Applications can be made and submitted online. See http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/grants-funding/available-grants-funding/community-grants-grants-from-rates/.

Ecofest expo

Staff updated the committee on the Ecofest event and sought (and obtained) approval to hold an additional Ecofest event in Motueka in 2014. Staff would continue to work with nelson city council (NCC) staff on a branding and support partnership for the main Ecofest event proposed to be held at Founders Park. Staff budgeted a total contribution towards both Ecofest events at $20,900. The Motueka event is projected to cost $15,000 with $3,000 already spent. For information on the festival see http://www.tasman.govt.nz/recreation/events/ecofest/.

Portable seating

The committee approved a new policy that provided a more consistent approach to charging for hire of the portable seating for commercial and non-profit events – including new criteria for reducing or waiving hire fees. The new policy is intended to ensure that the portable seating becomes self-funding (ie, has a neutral financial impact), instead of continuing to operate at a loss. Details of the policy can be found at pages 29 to 38 of the agenda – see link below).

The policy delegates decision-making on applications for hire fee reductions/waivers to the Chief Executive Officer or delegated officer. A report on the outcome of these applications will be submitted to the community development committee on an annual basis.

Briefly, the Council purchased 3000 portable seats in 2007, as part of the council’s contribution towards the upgraded Trafalgar Park. Generally, it takes 2 weeks for the seating to be assembled into the grandstand configuration and 2 weeks for it to be dismantled.

When not in use the portable seating is stored for free in a purpose-built shed at the Nelson A&P Association Grounds in Richmond. In return the A&P Association use the seating for free during show weekend each year. Good Sports Motueka has maintained and repaired seating between uses.

In recognition of this work, seating has been provided to this group free of charge. However, no formal agreement governs this arrangement. See my earlier posts for additional background information.

Mapua reserve land

Approval from the committee was sought to commence a publicly notified intention to declare a small land parcel of land owned by Council (see page 43 of the agenda) be a reserve and subsequently be amalgamated with existing adjacent reserve land. This would ensure an adequate connection to the existing reserve land is provided for from Aranui Road. The developer of land on the corner of Aranui Road and abutting this proposed strip of reserve land agreed to fund the notification process. Costs to council would only be future maintenance of the reserve strip.

Libraries update

During May 2014 all public internet computers and printers held in libaries were replaced as part of our partnership agreement with Aotearoa People’s Network Aotearoa (APNK). New and upgraded software was supplied with the computers.

Visitor numbers for May 2014 totaled 39,989. Active members at the end of May 2014 totaled 24,366. Visitor numbers for the year to date are 5% lower than last year. Most of this reduction appears to be happening in Motueka, with vistor numbers in Richmond and Golden Bay generally remaining constant since 2010. Items issued during May 2014 totaled 55,523. Issues for the year to date total 599,502 which is 3% lower than last year. Use of the library’s online resources shows continuing growth. Session numbers and downloads for the year to date are 10,563 or 46% higher than last year. In my opinion this is a significant trend.

When you look at the falling visitor numbers in Motueka and the growth trend in online usage, council need to tread carefully when it comes to spending decisions on new library buildings. In order to make an informed decision on any future investment in new library buildings, I would suggest that it would be prudent of council to defer any such decision towards the end of the long term plan (LTP) – perhaps 2020.

For some great visual aids on library statistics see pages 56 to 57 of the agenda.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/community-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CommunityServicesCommittee/2014/2014-06-19.

The Annual Plan – Full Council meetings (30 May, 5 June, and 30 June)

A full council meeting was held on 30 May 2014 and subsequently carried over to 5 June 2014. There were no apologies for the 30 May meeting. However, apologies from Cr Canton were received for the 5 June meeting.  The annual plan was then finalised by full council at the 30 June 2014 meeting.

The 30 May full council meeting was the official meeting to discuss the final cut of the 2014-15 annual plan and any expenditure that would be undertaken (or not) during that year. And an opportunity to take on board feedback on the draft annual plan circulated earlier in the year to the community. The agenda was to consider the following big items: Motueka library, Golden Bay service centres, Golden Bay recreation centre, Tourism funding, and Cycle trail extension – as separate resolutions, with a single resolution for all the other items.

However, before this meeting, several workshops had already been held in the preceding weeks to consider submissions, debate the issues, reconsider positions, and provide the opportunity for like minded councillors (or blocks of councilors) to strike any deals. Therefore, this meeting was to a large extent a formality, but for some councilors like myself, it was also the last opportunity to convince others around the table to change their minds.

Day One – the debt grenade

The full council meeting on Friday (30 May) was to be the big day when we would confirm council’s expenditure program for the forthcoming financial year. Things began, as outlined in the meeting agenda, with the Motueka library proposal leading the discussion.

Motueka library

All councillors were in support of removing the $1 million refurbishment of the Motueka library from the draft annual plan. Why it was ever included in the draft annual plan remains a mystery to me – given the lack of support it had around the council table before the draft annual plan was released. Yet the majority of councilors still voted for it to be included in the draft annual plan. Yet here we were, listening to the same arguments and now agreeing to remove it. Was it’s inclusion in the draft annual plan (and eventual removal in the final plan) just a straw-man for something else?

I for one, thought it should have been removed form the draft annual plan (and deferred for consideration in the long term plan), in the same manner the Golden Bay recreation centre was. This would provide the community a transparent and clear direction from council about what projects were to be deferred, and importantly, why.

Generally, the argument around the table during pre-draft annual plan workshops was that a redeveloped hub in Motueka (that included a service centre, library, and other council services) in one location on Decks reserve, was the way to go. I certainly agree with that direction, as it consolidates overhead costs for a number of council services. But the archilles heel for the hub project was its cost. It was just too expensive, at a time when council needed to be taking stock of its debt position. In my mind, the time was not right to undertake such a project and the prudent step was to consider this project (and others, like the Golden Bay recreation facility) as part of a longer term strategy.

The alternative to the hub concept was to invest $1 million in a refurbishment of the existing Motueka library – that included minor expansion of space and earthquake strengthening. This was the proposal that eventually made its way into the draft annual plan. However, on the day, councilors agreed that this work was also not a good idea. It was felt that the earthquake work would not be required given the governments announcements that it was reducing the earthquake strengthening standard from 66% to 34%. Furthermore, some councilors around the table felt that investing any more funds into a building that was on leased land, was not desirable.

Rather it was better to invest any funds in a hub concept on land owned by council. Finally, it had been noted in earlier reports to council that book useage at the Motueka library was in decline and the use of web based services (eg ebooks) was trending upwards. In light of this trend it was unclear whether the pressure on space within the library was also in decline – and perhaps more time was required to see how this trend would impact on future spacial needs. Accordingly, it was decided to reduce funding from $1 million to $76,000 to allow for any earthquake strengthening work required.

In my opinion the inclusion of the $1 million refurbishment of the Motueka library in the draft annual plan (and its eventual removal in the final annual plan) was a $1 million straw-man for other items to be kept or included in the final annual plan (eg the Golden Bay recreation centre). This is because some around the council table considered that the removal of the library (and deferment of the service centre) gave them room to do other projects within the existing budgeted program of expenditure. And as observed above, the inclusion in the draft annual plan of a refurbished Motueka library had little support during earlier workshops.

If I had been forced to chose between a $3 million Motueka hub concept and $3.5 million Golden Bay recreation centre, I probably would have chosen the hub concept. Why? Because the Golden Bay recreation centre still had a number of years of good service left within it. If we could sweat our roads (eg, defer maintenance of roads in the annual plan), we could easily sweat a recreation centre for a few more years. Furthermore, during an inspection of the recreation centre we were told that the main concerns with the centre were access to showers from the visitor changing sheds (which currently involved a toweled walk to the showers) and the closure of the grandstand (on the roof of the centre) due to earthquake risk. Both minor inconveniences and costs. Finally, some in the Golden Bay community also did not support another recreation facility if it added more debt. In contrast, the Motueka hub concept provided service improvements and potential operational cost savings.

A debt grenade

After consideration of the Motueka library refurbishment, the finance manager was invited to make a presentation on our financial (and debt) position in light of council’s intended expenditure program. This was to be a later item in the agenda.

During this presentation, the finance manager informed council that due to the 2014-15 annual plan being the last year of the previous long term plan, all outstanding capital projects (eg work that had yet to start or had not been completed) would have to be recognised in the 2014-15 financial accounts. This would also provide a clear financial position when considering the next long term plan.

Basically, council had committed to $20 million of capital expenditure in earlier years that would be catching up with the council’s balance sheet in the 2014-15 year. In effect, around $9 million dollars of debt funded capital works that had yet to completed would be added to the 2014-15 financial accounts.

Some councillors were quite shell shocked by this apparent increase in the council’s debt position. Although others recognised that this was actually debt funded expenditure that council had already undertaken to spend in earlier years. At this point the mayor asked that the meeting be suspended until the financial implications of the debt could be analysed. Subsequently, the revised (and very real) debt position was reported in the media (see Waimea Weekly. see “Shock as $18M blow-out found” (4 June 2014) http://issuu.com/waimea-weekly/docs/040614/1?e=1913941/8122090).

The reality was that the council’s closing debt position, based on forecasted opening debt (of $167 million) would be higher than forecast in the draft annual plan. However, due to the forecast of $167 million being higher than actual debt of $148 million, the increase in recognised debt meant that the forecasted closing debt position would remain close to what was forecasted (around $173 million).

The reality was that our debt was still going up. It’s just the forecasted increase from $167 million to $173 million (a $6 million increase) would instead go up from $148 million to $171 million (a $23 million increase).

In both scenarios, new debt increases by approximately $6 million. That’s the real figure to watch. As is the closing debt position – which will translate into increasing interest payments.

A figure we cannot afford. At a time when we should be trying to minimise debt funding so we can begin to turn the debt funding of council activities around. We already spend $8 million a year in interest payments. Thats three community recreation centres a year!! Thats why I could not at this time support any debt funding of assets that are not critical.

Sorry Golden Bay, but getting our debt under control has to come first, and saving $3.5 million is an easy first win that would have made a sizeable dent in a very large debt ship that we have to begin turning around. Adding $3.5 million of fuel to an “interest repayment” fire just makes no sense to me especially when we not under any real pressure to replace the recreation centre. Finally, in my opinion, more pressing issues (like storm water) required council funds before we could spend money on recreational facilities.

If anyone tells you we do not have a debt problem they are deluded. We have got to stop spending on the nice to have items to ensure we have the head room to turn around our dependence on debt funding, preserve our credit rating, and ensure we spend our money on the more pressing priorities (like storm water). That should have started now. Alas, its been kicked for touch till next year.

Day two – a fait compli

Council reconevened on Tuesday (5 June 2014) to move through the remaining items on the agenda. Apologies were received from Cr Inglis and Cr Canton. All other councillors were present. By this time, the shock of the debt had lulled and many councillors felt that it was just funds moving around on paper. But as I alluded to above, the reality is that council debt was increasing by a further $6 million.

Golden Bay service centre

The draft annual plan proposed adding just under $1 million dollars to the 2013-14 annual plan for a rebuild of the council service centre.

This building was a council services building used by council staff and for the public to make enquiries, pay rates, and obtain resource consent information. The building is located on crown granted land. If the land is not used for council purposes, it will revert back to the crown. Staff were removed from the building when it was identified as earthquake prone (eg, below the approved 66% earthquake compliance requirement). Accordingly, staff were shifted to a temporary building, opposite the back of the Motueka public library.

This left the council with several options: (1) refurbish the service centre so its 66% earthquake compliant costing $380k, (2) rebuild a new centre for no more than $1 million, or (3) relocate the service centre to another location – either the library or information centre. Added to the decision mix were several additional considerations. First, the council could receive additional insurance funds if it included a commercial space in any rebuild. Second, any relocation would require additional expenditure of expensive fibre for sending data to the service centre. This effectively ruled out relocation.

In terms of a rebuild it was argued that there was little financial difference in cost for a new build and any refurbishment that met the 66% earthquake standard. Especially if the new build would enable a commercial space to be added that would be partially funded by the additional insurance and future rental income.

However, there was a larger financial difference if the refurbishment was only required to meet a 34% earthquake standard. The expected cost would probably be something less than $380k. Given the government had announced a forthcoming change in the earthquake standard (from 66% to 34%), it was felt that the financial argument for a rebuild did not stack up, and earthquake strengthening to a 34% standard was the more cost effective option. Accordingly, the project was deferred to the long term plan for further consideration and no budget for a rebuild was required in the 2014-15 annual plan.

I think this was a very sensible financial decision. And one that perhaps preserves the heritage value of the building. And due credit also to the Golden Bay councilors (Cr Sangster and Cr Bouillir) moving the change to the draft annual plan. Although I also appreciate this was a tactical concession to get the Golden Bay recreation centre across the line.

Yes, it would mean that staff would have to continue to operate from a very small temporary space – but only for another year or two. In my opinion, there is also still scope for some functions (not all) to be moved to the library, so that only planning functions operate from the temporary building. This might alleviate in the short term some of the spacial pressure. However, that is for a future discussion.

Moving forward, the council will be investigating how much refurbishment work is required to meet a 34% compliance requirement so staff can return quickly to their former building.

Golden Bay community centre (or recreation centre)

This proposal sought the replacement (and upgrade) of the existing rugby clubrooms and squash courts. The upgrade also proposed the addition of net ball courts. The co ncept and plans can be viewed on the councils website (see http://www.tasman.govt.nz/policy/public-consultation/recently-closed-consultations/feedback-form-golden-bay-community-recreation-facility-concept-plan/).

I attribute its demise in the draft plan on the finance manager’s presentation to councilors on our debt position just before it was considered. And Cr Higgins vigerous support of that message. That presentation emphasised the cost of adding any more debt funded programs to the council books.

We also heard that there was no legal obligation on council to provide a recreation centre in Golden Bay. In effect, the inclusion of a new recreation centre was a luxury that we did not have to commit to in the next financial year. We could take a “tea break” and consolidate our financial position. Rather than rush in, we could take the time to improve our financial position before embarking on any more projects.

Shifting the recreation centre to the long term plan would also give the Golden Bay community more time to raise the necessary finance while signaling the project had not been forgotten. We just needed time to sort out the councils finances first. All very rational and prudent.

However, in my opinion, the reality was that the inclusion of the Golden Bay recreation centre (together with other items) in substitution of the Motueka library was a missed opportunity to reduce debt at a time when interest rates are going up. The time to spend on nice to have items (like recreation centres), is when interest rates are low or trending downward. Not when they are trending up or when the demand (and price) for builders and contractors will be high as the Christchurch rebuild gathers stream.

While I appreciate that the councils commitment was changed from $3.5 million to $3.2 million (a $300k reduction). It still commits council to debt that in my opinion was unnecessary to commit to, when were are also starring down the barrel of a Dam proposal, as well as a strain on our storm water infrastructure, as rainfalls are projected to increase due to climate change.

At this point I note a recent article in the Nelson mail on stormwater (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10236222/Flooding-battle-to-cost-millions). In that article it was stated that storm water and flood protection would mean more borrowing and more debt. In my opinion, this misrepresents the debate. The tension is not between addressing storm water issues and debt, it is between addressing storm water issues and spending money on other nice to have projects. Its a question of prioritising spending. Surely protecting peoples homes, comes before building recreation facilities?

As a community we band together to protect one another during a crisis. Mitigating the potential cost to the community of a major flood (not to mention the risk of potential insurance fee hikes or non-insurance, as well as litigation risk for council) surely warrants the investment. Not to mention removing the unnecessary worry ratepayers have whenever there is a major rainfall event. This is a political decision and the community need to speak up.

If Champion Rd can have Q100 storm water solution why can’t the other three or four hotspots in Richmond. For example, the Hart Rd\Bateup Rd intersection which receives rainfall from the higher Richmond south developments and was under water during the last three heavy rainfall events since 2011. Or the cemetery dam overflow (at the back of the Richmond cemetery), that nearly overflowed were it not for the valiant mid-night efforts or nearby residents removing flood debris from storm water grills – averting what could have been a major disaster for homes below the cemertery.

Finally, while the Golden Bay recreation centre will only add another $1 million of debt to the 2014-15 plan, the proposal is funded across two years. This means that council has already committed to the remaining $2 million of debt in the 2016-17 year. This places another road block in prioritising available funds on storm water in future years. And the overall increase in debt remains the same $3.2 million.

For the record, Cr Murfin and I opposed this expenditure. Cr Norris also voted against the amended resolution, although he voted against it on the basis it should have remained at $3.5 million.

Tourism

This issue has generated a lot of confusion – and it has not been helped by poor communication of what council (or at least some councilors) set out to do – which was to review the return on investment from tourism funding. I’ve discussed this issue in earlier posts so I will not revisit the debate. However, the outcome of the annual plan puts in place funding for destination tourism for the 2014-15 year, with some incentive for the relevant stakeholders to resolve future funding before the end of this year.

Great Taste Trail (or cycle trail extension)

This proposal sought to build the next planned segment of the trail beyond Wakefield. During workshops leading up to the draft annual plan being finalised, many councillors were opposed to this proposal on the basis of the ongoing operational costs council would be exposed too against the limited financial return it might offer Wakefield businesses. However, the Mayor suggested that if he could secure 50% government funding would councilors support the cycle trail being added to the draft annual plan. On that basis it got support during the workshops. However, between the workshop and the proposed resolution, the funding source got widened to include other third parties (potentially including institutions that might received council grants).

To reinforce councils commitment that funding the cycle trail extension was only on the basis of government funding, and not from another entity that might be indirectly funded by council grants, I moved that the last three words of the resolution be removed – namely “or another third party”. Unfortunately, I received no support for this amendment and it was defeated.

Everything else (including the Mapua development)

Surprisingly (or perhaps not), the $1.2 million Mapua development was lumped into the fill-a-buster resolution – together with 70 other items for consideration.

As it was part of a single resolution, you had to either support the resolution or not. This meant that disagreement with one of the 70+ items meant you had to vote the whole resolution down, or note your dissent on any of the 70+ items being considered. For example, the $1.2 million Mapua development proposal.

I had thought given a number of residents raised concerns about this item, the level of general public interest, the size of the investment, and the fact the cycle trail (involving only $300k) had received a separate resolution, that the Mpaua development proposal would also have been separated out from the rest of the items, that were less controversial. However, the Mayor (who is responsible for setting the agenda) preferred to leave it in amongst the rest. However, as concession the Mayor allowed councillors to note their disapproval of any single item – which I chose to do – rather than seek to separate the item from the main resolution.

By way of a brief background, the Mapua development initiative proposes to build on the former acquarium site. Two build options were outlined by a WHK report. The first was a container option (similar to the one used in Christchurch) for around $100k. The second was a standard build for $1.2 million. This would be partially debt funded. A third option was to just lease the land and let a developer build and lease any new building.

In my opinion, its not for council to seek more equity from ratepayers in order to embark on new commercial activities. If ratepayers want to invest their money in new commercial activities they should not be compelled to do it through increases in rates. And lets be frank, thats what is being proposed.

I also do not believe it is for council to attempt to control what businesses operate in the Mapua precinct other than by regulations. That is for the market to decide. If there are undesirable businesses, they can be controlled through regulations, not buying up all the buildings so the council becomes the sole lease holder of the entire precinct. However, if councilors want to employ a strategy of ownership, then they should be doing it for the least cost.

In my mind the container option would achieve the desired outcomes in a more cost effective manner, as well as bringing back a buzz to the Mapua precinct, in the same way it has happened in Christchurch (see http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/archives/49798/ and http://www.china.org.cn/photos/2011-12/04/content_24070673_3.htm). The added benefit of a container development is that it would reduce the lease costs for tenants while providing a very efficient space to operate their businesses from.

Arguments have been made around small space a container would offer, but the type of family businesses some councillors seek to retain in the precinct could easily operate from smaller spaces – as is the case in Wellington. Although I should add containers can be made into larger spaces (as the pictures of the ChCh precinct show). A container development would also allow more space for public seating which is at a premium in this area. After staff costs, lease costs are a major hurdle for start-up businesses, especially craft businesses. A container development would provide opportunities for new businesses to establish themselves. Surely this is a good thing.

An argument was advanced by staff that the $1.2 million should remain in the budget so that full council could at least consider whether the proposal had merit. If it was removed, council could not consider whether the proposal had any merit. In my mind, council should have nipped the project in the bud then rather than waste any further effort by staff. However, that argument found favour and the majority of councillors (but not all).

In my mind, expenditure of $1.2 million (or for that matter anything above $200k) that would require more debt funding, did not have any merit. Accordingly, I voted against it and noted my dissent on the item.

 Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes for the annual plan are found at: http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2014/2014-05-30 and http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2014/2014-06-30.

Newspapers

http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/media-centre/news/minimising-the-impact-on-ratepayers-remains-a-major-focus/

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/10227950/Final-decision-on-rates-plan

http://nelsonweekly.co.nz/funding-cut-to-cycle-trail/

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/10018498/Tasman-to-tackle-debt-crisis

“Shock as $18M blow-out found” (4 June 2014) http://issuu.com/waimea-weekly/docs/040614/1?e=1913941/8122090

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/9828399/Tasman-rates-to-rise-up-to-3-5pc

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10236222/Flooding-battle-to-cost-millions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Council and Community Development meetings (13 February 2014)

February and March 2014 have been a very busy period for myself, with attendance at council meetings and planning workshops taking up a lot of time – not to mention all the associated reading of documents that has to be undertaken. So much for trying to also sustain a personal income. I can now see why some councillors are so keen to top up their part-time remuneration with as many director appointments, chair roles, and commissioner roles, as they can leverage or muster.

February 13th was certainly a busy morning, with the Community Development meeting following hot on the heels of a Full Council meeting. Together with Richmond Ward councillors meeting to discuss the revised Richmond reserves fund. Interestingly, full council meetings are suppose to happen every 6 weeks, but this has not been the case over the start of this year – and in the process has caused some understandable confusion for some residents.

Apart from the mayor (who submitted his apologies for not attending), all councillors were present for both meetings.

Full Council Meeting

The council considered the following agenda items: (1) appointment of advisors to the regional transport committee, and (2) the Richmond water treatment plant project (located in lower Queen Street). The agenda was unusually much shorter than a normal full council meeting and was subsequently followed by another full council meeting a week later on 19 February. Neither were called as extraordinary meetings.

In public forum, Jo-anne Ellis spoke about her concerns about the recycle centre’s demise and the Richmond water treatment plants location and design. She expressed concerns that it was not widely communicated to the public other than in the long term plan.

Regional transport committee advisors

Questions were raised about the need for the appointed of advisors to the regional transport committee and the projected cost ($4,500 per year). However, it was explained that the advisors rarely claimed the $150 meeting fee (eg the police and TRNZ covered their own costs), and advisors had been used before. Further, the appointment of advisors provided a more robust discussion from targeted interest groups (eg cultural and mobility groups) ensuring issues did not arise later in the process. An ambulance at the top, rather than the bottom, of the process. Appointed advisors included: Karen Leee (environmental issues), Bill Findlater (economic issues), Inspector Jeniffer Richardson (safety), Geoff Cameron (public health), Donna Smith (mobility), Frank Hippolite (cultural issues). Together with a representative from Nelson and Marlborough councils.

Richmond water treatment plant

Most of councils time was spent discussing the Richmond water treatment plant. And this was of particular interest to me given the size and importance of the investment.

The water treatment plant will be located in lower Queen Street near Headingly lane and McShanes Road. A good map of the pipework is provided in the agenda (page 15, para 7.10). Effectively the treatment plant will blend two groundwater sources to achieve required nitrate levels together with an ultra-violet treatment to achieve protoza levels in accordance with New Zealand drinking water standards prescribed by statute. Pumps will also be upgraded.

The project is planned to cost roughly $9.5 million. Work will be spread over two years (roughly $4.7 million per year). However, tenders for the project placed its cost well over budget. Council staff have since reviewed the scope of the project finding a number of savings to bring it back into budget. Most of the savings involve deferring replacement of estimated pipework (31% of the tender value).

Apparently for some time now council have been deferring expenditure on a water treatment plant. However, due to potential national water standard breaches (resulting in water boil notices being issued), and water management plans having to be resubmitted if the project did not proceed (a costly exercise), council could no longer defer this project. Richmond is one one of the few towns left in the country that does not currently comply with protoza treatment.

Why such an important project was deferred given $26 million dollars was borrowed to fund community facilities raises some questions over council’s earlier priorities. However, thats history now and this council is reprioritising where it spends ratepayer’s money.

Community Development Meeting

The committee considered the following agenda items: (1) presentation from the Nelson School of Music, and reports on (2) the Moutre Hills Community centre extension (ministerial consent), (3) portable seating for rugby events, (4) the Golden Bay Community facility working party, (5) funding applications, and (6) the ecofest and environment awards. Together manager’s reports on community development and relations. A useful action sheet of council activity is also provided in the agenda.

Portable seating

The most discussed topic was the request from the rugby union to reduce the council’s charges for the use of the council’s portable seating for both the Marko games and the Crusaders game. After some discussion about the equipment being repaired by volunteer groups it was judged that a reduced rate could be afforded and the council was directed to return to the unions with a revised proposal. The poor state of the equipment (and possibly pieces being lost or swapped with other companies equipment) raised questions over the proper management of the potable seating and equipment warranties. Apparently floors were crumbling, when they were suppose to be manufactured from marine ply.

Golden Bay shared recreational facility

Unfortunately, the Golden Bay recreational facility is a hotly debated topic. In part, this is because of decisions and agreements made around the council table by earlier councils. In my opinion, it should have been the first community facility constructed by the council as it went about borrowing over $26 million to fund a number of community and recreational facilities around the Tasman area. Unfortunately it was not, and has been the last cab off the rank.

This is disappointing, as the Golden Bay community is probably the most isolated of all the Tasman communities. It is now even more unfortunate, given the current financial environment. Council is now confronted with keeping debt down – and projects now have to be revisited with a fresh perspective and revised priority. The question we face is do we spend money now Golden Bays community facilities or do we wait another 10 or 20 years time, when we might be in a better financial position to afford them.

I’ve visited the community facilities in Golden Bay. The sports ground facilities are in reasonable condition and have been well looked after by the community, who are clearly proud of what they have. Apart from the stand (located above the rugby club rooms), not meeting current earthquake standards (and these standards could change), and the need to improve discrete access to showers for visiting teams, it would appear the asset has a number of years still left in it.

To my mind I wonder if we have been replacing community assets to quickly and not sweating them a little more. For the sports ground in Golden Bay I wonder if a cheaper option would be for council to close the stand (and wait for earthquake standards to be lowered by forthcoming legislation), as well as provide some temporary screens between visitors changing rooms and showers.

Another important consideration that council needs to weigh up whether deferring investment in community facilities is a wise decision, is that the community already has on its door step the most amazing natural facilities and parks – something Richmond does not have. It has fantastic beaches and reserves. Do we need to provide even more public activities for the community than are already available? Are we over capitalising our community development expenditure in a region that has the smallest population base?

As you can see the debate is hard. Expectations may not be fulfilled in the short term. But council has to confront these hard choices. I think deferring further investment until we can afford it is the most prudent decision we can make. Council is obliged to take a district wide view. We’ve already made a sizeable investment (and debt) in community facilities already. Our spending priorities must now shift to protecting peoples homes and ensuring we have adequate storm water protection in place for now and in the future.

That all said, the decision of council was to approve the design phase to get a better picture of overall costs and to cap any investment of council to $3.5 million (being 80% of the overall cost). This allowed the community to also have a better picture of how much they would need to raise towards the project to get it over the threshold and off the ground.

A copy of the recreational facility plans can be found here http://www.tasman.govt.nz/policy/public-consultation/feedback-form-golden-bay-community-recreation-facility-concept-plan/

Note! Since that meeting, council has decided to remove the Golden Bay recreational facility from the annual plan for the 2014-15 year. And to leave discussion about future investment in the facility to the long term plan. If you support the council’s decision to do this you should make a submission to the annual plan acknowledging your support. A risk of council showing some leadership on this issue is that all of the submissions on the annual plan may come from only those people opposed to the decision to remove the facility from next years planned expenditure. And therefore result in the facility being put back into the plan. This is because council are obliged to take into consideration submissions on the annual plan from the community. That is why we have a consultation process on the annual plan. Therefore, if you think the facilities removal from the annual plan is a good idea, do tell council. And if you have any other ideas to save money – do tell council.

Richmond reserves fund

Each Ward has a reserves fund that is used to make improvements to local reserves and parks. For the next financial year we are looking to ensure that funds are spent on the basis of money received, rather than on planned income. In the past, money was spent on the basis of projected income. However, sometimes that projection did not materialise, leaving a short fall between planned expenditure and projected income. As part of a new approach of living within our means we will only be spending money we have actually received. This means that we will not be doing a lot of reserves work in the next financial year. Further, as part of our collective wish to reduce debt, we will be looking to direct surplus reserve funds towards debt reduction.

Agenda and minutes

The Agenda and minutes for the full council meeting and community development meeting can be found at: (1) http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2014/2014-02-13 and (2) http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/community-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CommunityServicesCommittee/2014/2014-02-13.