Tagged: Jackett Island

Engineering committee meeting (14 April)

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The engineering services committee meeting was held on 14 April 2016. Apologies were received from Cr Mirfin, and for lateness Cr Bouillir and Mayor Kempthorne. All other councillors were present.

The agenda (88 pages) included: (1) Richmond car parking survey 2015-2016, (2) Chairman’s report, (3) Water services – options for service provision – s 17A review, (4) Water and wastewater reticulation – Mapua, (5) Rivers works – options for service provision – s 17A review, (6) Rivers contract extension and procurement of new contract, (7) Severe rain event update, (8) Road safety update, and (9) Engineering services activity update.

Public forum

Mr Maxwell Clark spoke about the new funding model for the Waimea Dam. He considered the revised model was good because it made it clear that the irrigators needed to pay their fair share. Something they were not currently doing.

Mr Graeme Dick (a property developer) spoke about the development of Mapua and the major restrictions relating to water supply. He urged the Council to create urgency (as it was not in the LTP) and to fast track the supply of new water to the Mapua area. He suggested a water pipe to Mapua would cost approximately $6 million and that 140 new sections would cover that cost. From development levies.

Cr Sangster spoke about the recent Takaka flooding and the issue with water ponding at the wastewater treatment plant. He urged the Council to include gravel removal from the Waingaro River (near Duncan’s bank) as a matter of urgency.

Richmond Car Parking Survey

A powerpoint presentation developed by Ben Norrish and Dylan Waghorn (engineering summer students) was presented to the committee by staff. This presentation was subsequently followed up with a council workshop on car parking strategies.

Chair’s report

Highlights included:

  • Fluoridation. The mood of councillors was that the cost of fluoridation should fall on those who made the decision to fluoridate (ie the DHB) or central government, not TDC. Staff were asked to provide a report on the central government’s water fluoridation proposal including expected timeframes, costs, and the proposed legal framework.
  • State highway liaison meetings. Councillors discussed the frequency and timing of these meetings. It was agreed the meetings should continue, but perhaps less often.

Water services review and procurement

Council resolved to: (1) receive the report, (2) not to undertake a s 17A review, and (3) proceed with tendering for procurement of water utilities operations and maintenance services. Council also instructed staff to develop a s 17A service delivery review programme in the relevant Activity Management Plan (AMP) for the Long Term Plan (LTP) 2018-28.

Generally, a local authority must review the cost-effectiveness of current arrangements for meeting the needs of communities within its district or region for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services and performance of regulatory functions (under s 17 of the LGA). However, a local authority is not required to undertake a review if they are satisfied that the potential benefits of undertaking a review do not justify the cost of undertaking the review.

In this case, the expiry of the water utilities service deliver contract has triggered a s 17A review. However, there are potential benefits and efficiencies from deferring a future service delivery review until the review aligns with the water utility contract renewal at Nelson council (NCC). In effect, a major shared services alignment on water services with Nelson council.

Water and wastewater reticulation – Mapua

Council resolved to: (1) receive the report, and (2) approve the use of up to $300,000 for a feasibility study for water and wastewater options in Mapua in 2016-17, funded from activity balances for water ($200,000), wastewater ($50,000), and transport ($50,000). Council also requested that staff report back to council on the process to be followed, including: potential stakeholder engagement, and a breakdown of the budget prior to commencing work on the feasibility study.

Private developers have been exploring alternative water supply proposals in Mapua to either boost the council’s system capacity or create new schemes. Recent investigations into interim water supply solutions for Mapua confirm that the Council’s water network is at capacity and cannot accommodate more growth above the water already allocated. The wastewater network is also at capacity and must be upgraded before it can accommodate growth beyond the developments already consented in Mapua.

20160421-tdc-mapuadevelopment

Under the current Long Term Plan, water and wastewater works to renew the water main and provide substantial additional capacity for growth won’t be completed for approximately 12 years. Ongoing significant water pipe breaks are threatening the delivery of an acceptable Level of Service (LOS) to residents. These are not yet at a level that justifies early intervention.

However, staff are concerned that either growth demand or excessive pipe failure in the future could warrant action before upgrade works are currently programmed – or adequately planned. Hence, staff propose to advance a feasibility study in 2016-17 that will allow the selection of a preferred design option, sizing, and programming, for both water and wastewater. The study will consider whether works should be brought forward in the future (if needed).

Rivers work review

Council resolved to: (1) receive the report, (2) not to undertake a s 17A review, and (3) proceed with tendering for procurement of water utilities operations and maintenance services. Council also instructed staff to develop a s 17A service delivery review programme in the relevant Activity Management Plan (AMP) for the Long Term Plan (LTP) 2018-28.

Generally, a local authority must review the cost-effectiveness of current arrangements for meeting the needs of communities within its district or region for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services and performance of regulatory functions (under s 17 of the LGA). However, a local authority is not required to undertake a review if they are satisfied that the potential benefits of undertaking a review do not justify the cost of undertaking the review.

In this case, the expiry of the river works contract has triggered a s 17A review. However, there are potential benefits and efficiencies from deferring a future service delivery review until the review aligns with the water utility contract renewal at Nelson council (NCC). In effect, a major shared services alignment on river works with Nelson council.

Rivers contracts

Council resolved to: (1) receive the report, and (2) approves the extension of the rivers maintenance contract C840 with Taylors Contracting Ltd until 30 September 2016.

Council currently has a contract with Taylors Contracting Limited to provide physical works in “X” and “Y” classified rivers. This is a 5-year contract (3+1+1 years) which expires on 30 June 2016. Staff sought to extend the current contract by 3 months to enable a review and develop contract documents for the new tender process. If approved, the current rivers contract would expire on 30 September 2016.

Severe rain event

Council resolved to receive the report.

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A severe storm event (across the whole district) occurred on 23-24 March 2016. Over 24 hours 250-350mm of rainfall fell across the northwest ranges and Kahurangi National Park area, and 150-200mm about the Richmond Ranges.

Location

Total Rainfall (mm)

Aorere at Collingwood

298

Anatoki at Paradise

376

Takaka at Harwoods

267

Takaka at Canaan

336

Riwaka at Takaka Hill

254

Waimea at Appleby

124

Brook at Third House

145

Lee at Trig F

174

Nelson at Founders Park

105

 

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The largest flood occurred in the Riwaka River. The flow in the South Branch tributary peaked at 96 cumecs and the flow in the North Branch tributary peaked at 94 cumecs, which was the second highest flow since records began in 1982.

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The Takaka River catchment also experienced significant flooding. The upper catchment rivers reached flows corresponding to around 15-30-year flood events and the mid catchment 5-10-year floods events. The upper Takaka River at Harwoods flow site recorded the second highest level since records began in 1975.

Location Records Start This Event (rainfall mm) Previous Highest (rainfall mm)
Collingwood Repeater 2012 298 178
Takaka at Harwoods 1988 267 265
Riwaka North at Littles 1995 227 186
Tui Close (Motueka) 1998 179 140

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Road safety

Council resolved to receive the report.

Tasman District has always had a relatively low crash history. Generally, around 70 people annually are hurt when using the road network. In 2006 and 2007, numbers were higher than normal.

In 2006, there were 3 fatal and 7 serious crashes on our road network. A further 50 minor crashes and 97 damage only incidents also occurred. In 2007, there were 2 fatal, 24 serious and 91 minor injury crashes, and 119 damage only crashes. Since 2010, there has been a steady decrease in the number of people injured on our road network. In 2015, there were no fatal crashes.

The first graph shows the fatal and serious reported crashes from 2006 to 2015. A trend line has also been added to show the reduction over time.

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The next graph shows all injury crashes from 2006 to 2015.

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The last graph shows the above data as well as non-injury (damage only) crashes.

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The graph below provides crash data from 2006 to 2015.

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The graph below shows the traffic growth (vehicle kilometres travelled) across the District from 2006 to 2015.

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Engineering services activity update

Council resolved to receive the report. Highlights from the managers report included:

  • Finances. Overall operations income and expenditure is within or ahead of budget. A total year to date operating surplus of $5.8 million is recorded. The capital works programme is behind budget overall. We are still struggling to commit all the carry forward work from the last financial year and initiate all the new capital work in the current year.
  • Health and safety. Water main excavation work vs power line (11kv power cable) incident resulted in an arc touching a digger bucket. No injuries were reported. Downer began an investigation on the morning of the incident. Immediate action has been to change their procedures.
  • Planning. Staff have developed a 2016 activity planning business plan. The plan does not outline all of the team’s work, just priorities for 2016, and indicative priorities for 2017. Transport plans include: Tasman Speed Management Plan, and District Car Parking Strategy Review. Stormwater plans include: Richmond Catchment Management Plan (CMP), and Secondary Flowpath Management. Other projects include: Regional Water Supply and Demand model, Water related TRMP changes, Water Allocation Principles and Practice, and the Joint Land Development Manual.
  • Asset database. Since the last update, 3,474 utilities asset features have been added, edited, or deleted, based on new subdivision works, repairs and council contracts are received. Progress has been made in reviewing and improving the drains data set with 138 new assets added, 34 amended and 10 features removed (added in error or superseded by piped systems).
  • Developments. Three subdivision engineering plans have been received and approved since the last update. Council’s legal advisers are preparing a deed for an area in Richmond West which has a deferred residential zoning and has the potential for an additional 500 new dwellings. It is proposed that the area will be serviced by a new wastewater pressure sewerage system draining to Headingly Lane. Residential developments (future 60 lots) off Pitfure road in Wakefield are extending into residential zoned land; discussion with the developer’s agent is continuing. Pre-application discussions on future developments in Richmond south are continuing. The Hart subdivision (33 lots) on the corner of Hill street and Hart road is nearing completion. The Mapua Joint Ventures development is continuing with the next stages (24 lots) which will see the upgrades of the Seaton Valley Road and Mapua Drive frontages to the subdivision. Stage three (36 lots) of the subdivision in Grey Street Motueka is nearing completion.
  • Stormwater. Secondary flow paths protected by easements in new subdivisions continue to be blocked by fences/gardens and enforcement may be required to maintain these flow paths. Work is underway to remove a number of willow trees and place rock protection in Reservoir Creek, Richmond. A programme of hazard identification at water utilities sites has commenced, starting with an assessment of stormwater inlets. Staff will be using iAuditor software on site which will ensure that data is entered electronically directly into the system in a consistent manner.
  • Tender Portal. TDC now have our own portal for Tenderlink (www.tenderlink.com/tasman) which is linked to the Council’s website.
  • Waste. Recycling tonnages continue to track above 2015, with year to date tonnages 24% above last year. Resource recovery centres have been busy over summer and total waste volumes are tracking 6% above budget.
  • Roads. March has seen the completion of a 300 metre aggregate overlay and associated drainage work on Korere–Tophouse Road. This has remediated a section of road that suffered severe stress due to the logging activity along this route. The gravel section of Old House Road at the intersection with Central Road has been sealed as a safety improvement. Focus was also put on replacing, extending or installing a number of culverts including at Herring Stream Road, Tadmor-Glenhope Road, Hursthouse Street and the Motueka Valley Highway. Pavement repairs to various roads in Richmond included: Bateup Road roundabout at Wensley Road, Churchill Avenue and Hill Street Rip and Remake.
  • Lighting. The conversion of street lamps to LED is on track for completion by June. Also planning is underway to convert Parks and Reserves lights which will also be completed by late June.
  • Other work. Members of the Richmond’s Men’s Shed have recently completed painting (stain) the seats and gate in Sundial Square. Site Services re-cut a new track in the road reserve extension at the end of Hill street that connects to Hill Street South. Members of the Men’s Shed have also been involved in some of this work with clearing and cutting grass and they will also be constructing a short section of shallow steps.
  • Cycle trail. A funding application has been submitted to MBIE for $223,481 for: Pomona and Marriages Roads off-road trail, Coastal erosion protection (Fittal Street), and estuary boardwalk and signage. The next focus for development will be: Wai-iti Domain to Quail Valley Road via Tunnicliff Forest, Nelson Forests Limited and Ewing Poultry; and South of Spooners Tunnel to Norris Gulley Picnic area.
  • Jackett Island. Jackett Island has experienced two medium storm events since the last inspection on 7 September 2015. There are no reports of any damage to the sandbag wall. The sand bag wall was inspected on 21 March 2016 and is generally in good condition. A further quarterly survey of the sandbag wall and beach profiles was undertaken in March.
  • Rivers. Expenditure for the river maintenance related work year-to-date was $657,000. This is $622,000 or 50% under the even monthly proportional year-to-date expenditure budget.
  • Storms. Total costs to date for road cleanup and reinstatement from the storm event on 17-18 February 2016 is $60,000, which has been funded from existing maintenance budgets. This excludes costs to repair Tasman’s Great Taste Trail.

Projects

Enclosed below are a series of you tube video’s showing the development of a number of engineering projects council have started during my first term on council:

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2016/14April2016.

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Engineering services committee (24 September)

The engineering services committee was held on 24 September 2015. Apologies for lateness were received from the mayor, Cr Edgar, and Cr Bouillir. All other councillors were in attendance.

The agenda included the following items: (1) chairs report, (2) activity management plans, (3) Richmond’s central business district storm water plan, and (4) activity update from the manager.

Chairs report

I don’t normally talk about the chairs report as there is never much in them. However, I thought I would highlight a joint Tasman and Nelson council initiative that I think holds a lot of promise. The initiative I am talking about is the creation of a single set of planning and engineering standards for both Tasman and Nelson councils. In my opinion, it will provide greater levels of certainty (and cost savings) for developers working across both regions. This can only be positive in terms of cost savings for the building industry (and potential home buyers).

For this reason, I asked the chair to comment on the mood of the Nelson councillors (Cr Mike Ward, Cr Brian McGurk) who make up the joint steering group (which also comprises Cr Norris, and Cr Bryant), given the potential efficiencies and cost savings for the wider community that can be made. The chair confirmed that the mood was very positive and that Nelson councillors were keen to see this initiative succeed.

I only hope that it is not derailed in the same sense that the Yorke valley initiative has been, from what appears to be Nelson council wanting a greater share of the benefits. Like all good partnerships, both parties have to win equally.

Activity management plans

As part of the long term plan process, each of the four departments of council had to prepare an activity management plan (AMP) for all the things they planned to do over the next 10 years. For engineering, that involved writing detailed plans for: roads, water, and waste. The plans are drafted to fit within the financial umbrella of the annual and long term plans and describe in detail all the projects council will be doing and when. If funds are not allocated it is not planned to be done.

The annual and long term plans are just budgets. They show where the council wants to land the plane. Like all budgets the spending planned within them can change. Where there are changes, the annual report will show whether council stayed within its forecasted spending (the budget) or fell outside of it (resulting in either a surplus or deficit). For example, council might be asked to increase its service levels for grass cutting. If council agreed to do that then the level of activity and cost would increase, and the annual plan would report a deficit against the forecasted expenditure. Last year, council achieved a surplus (it earned and saved more money than it had planned to spend).

As I read through the transport AMP, I noticed that $1.04 million was still allocated against road works for the Salisbury road\Queen street intersection. My recollection of the draft AMP (that was presented with the long term plan) was an explicit reference to “traffic lights” at this intersection. The revised (and final) AMP presented to this committee appeared to have changed the words (by removing the reference to “traffic lights”), but had keep the original figure of $1.04 million being spent at this intersection.

Given the lack of community support for traffic lights at this intersection, I questioned this line entry in the transport AMP.

I was advised that staff had taken on board the communities desire not to have traffic lights at this intersection and for that reason had removed the words (“traffic lights”). I congratulated staff on this, but questioned why there was still a need to spend $1.04 million at this intersection. Surely, expenditure would be lower, if they were no longer planning to install traffic lights. In fact, if we had vetoed traffic lights, there was nothing to do at this intersection?

The explanation provided was that the $1.04 million would be used to examine the whole of Salisbury road to see what traffic solutions were needed (if any). I was also told that the amount was planned to be spent outside the next three years, so there was still time in the next LTP process to remove or change this line item.

I pointed out to councillors (and staff) that the words in the AMP did not refer to the whole of Salisbury road, but instead were associated only with the intersection. If the intention had changed, then the words in the AMP also should have changed – but they had not. I also found it strange that the amount of funds to be spent on this intersection had not changed from when they were originally intended to be spent on traffic lights. Surely, if no traffic lights were contemplated, the funding should have reduced to reflect merely investigatory work – which should not amount to $1.04 million.

I also pointed out that the AMP had already allocated roughly $500,000 to another part of Salisbury road (the William street intersection). In my mind, if the whole road was being reviewed (and a solution would not involve traffic lights) what other parts of Salisbury road required money being spent. As far as I was aware staff had only identified two areas of concern on Salisbury road.

If the Queen street intersection would not have lights, and William street already had funds allocated to it, why did we need to budget for $1.04 million for other parts of Salisbury road. It just did not make sense or add up. Accordingly, I invited councillors to remove the the $1.04 million, and just use the $500,000 (allocated to William street) for any Salisbury road reviews.

Unfortunately, I received no support from any councillors, and the AMP was approved as presented.

Richmond central business district – storm water plan

As everyone will be aware, Richmond’s central business district sunk beneath the waves during the 2011 and 2013 floods. To address the risks of future flooding, council has set aside a budget in the LTP ($14.7 million) to provide a solution.

Flood modelling for the current state of Richmond’s storm water system (for a 1 in 100 year flood event) is illustrated below.

CBDFloodModel-Base1

A number of storm water solutions were presented to council in a series of council workshops held earlier this year. From those discussions, 3 options were presented in the report to council, which included the preferred option (a gravity pressure pipeline system). The other two options were using Beach road’s drain, or using a newly constructed outlet near the racecourse.

I will briefly outline all three options.

Option 1 (Beach road)

The estimated cost was $14.7 million. This essentially involved increasing the capacity of the Beach road and Queen street drainage system. Disadvantages of this option were the poor condition of Beach road drain and the impact of the tide. A high tide would prevent much of the water coming down the system into the sea.

CBDFloodModel-Opt1

Option 2 (Racecourse drain)

The estimated cost was 13.2 million. Instead of increasing the capacity of Beach road drain, a new drain would be constructed along the racecourse boundary (where the croquet club are currently located). The main disadvantages of this option was the cost of new piping and disruption at the Gladstone road intersection.

CBDFloodModel-Opt2

Option 3 (Oxford street pressured pipe system)

The estimated cost was $13.9 million). This option utilised the existing pipes in Oxford street and pressured the water (to move faster through the existing pipes) from Washbourn gardens to poutama drain (which runs along the railway reserve and then turns parallel to Queen street behind Club Waimea). To mitigate flood waters above Washbourn gardens (eg in Jimmy Creek), the pipe under Washbourn road would be increased in size. The main disadvantage of this option is the cost of increasing the capacity of poutama drain.

CBDFloodModel-Opt3

Flood modelling for this option showed the greatest improvement (as illustrated below).

CBDFloodModel-Solu1

Council received the report and approved further development of option 3.

Activity update

Highlights from the engineering manager’s report include:

  • Footpaths. Hill Street footpath (between Queen Street and William Street) is being reinstated as part of the ultra fast broadband (UFB) roll out. Chorus is paying for this portion of the work.
  • Lighting. The LED upgrade continues with 187 LED street lights installed in Richmond (Salisbury Road to Washbourn Drive). The LED residents survey has received 22 responses (77% preferring the new LED lights). One of the benefits of LED light is the reduced upward spill. A number of residents (81%) have noticed an improved clarity in the night sky. The survey is located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/media-centre/public-notices/led-streetlights-questionnaire/.
  • Rural road maintenance. Lots has happened in this space, including: culvert upgrades (Motueka valley highway, Tadmor-Glenhope Road, Hoult Valley Road, George Harvey Road, and Hiwipango Road), metalling (Aniseed Valley Road, ozens Road, Eighty-Eight Valley Road, Vaton Valley Road, Grooby Road, Martin Road, Pine Hill Road, Rocky River Road, Sunday Creek Road, and Wills Road), tree removal (Eighty-Eight Valley Road, Wai-iti Valley Road, Aniseed Valley Road, and Neudorf Road), advisory sign upgrades (Korere-Tophouse Road and Kerr Hill Road), and slip removal (Riwaka-Kaiteriteri Road, Baton Valley Road, Riwak-Sandy Bay Road, Motueka Valley Highway, and Stanley Brook Hill).
  • Wangapeka road. This issue was raised during the public forum at the last meeting. Essentially, the road is the sole access route for 3 residential homes (and a forestry block) and is being washed away by the river. In the past landowners have constructed a rock wall, which has since been washed away. Wangapeka river is a class “Z” river, which according to council policy means any erosion control requires a 50% contribution from the landowner. Cost of any work could be up to $100,000. Council has held discussions with landowners and continue to seek an agreeable solution for all parties.
  • Rivers. For the July period river maintenance was $131,000, which was less than the projected monthly expenditure of $167,000 (roughly $2 million per annum).
  • Jackett Island. The sand bag wall was inspected on 7 September 2015. The survey confirms the long term trend of rising beach levels to the north and lowering beach levels to the south of the property
  • Waste. The new kerbside recycling has now bedded down with all bins now delivered. Overall volumes for July and August 2015 were up 25% on the same period last year.

KerbsideRecyling2015Sep

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2015/2015-09-24.

Engineering services committee meeting (13 August)

The engineering services committee meeting was held on 13 August 2015. It was followed by a 2 hour workshop on the proposed storm water infrastructure for central Richmond, and the opening of the new recycling centre (picture of recycled plastic bottles above). Apologies were received from Cr Canton, otherwise all councilors were in attendance.

The agenda was very brief and comprised: (1) the chair’s report, (2) the minor improvements plan for 2015-16, (3) the engineering activity report, and (4) a presentation from engineering form MWH. I will discuss the main items of interest.

Before addressing the agenda, the public forum received two presentations.

Public forum

The first issued concerned the shared use of footpaths in Brightwater. Garrick Batten raised concerns over the heightened risk of being hit by cyclists on the main street and wanted the “shared footpath” sign between the Domain and the shops removed. He suggested a new sign should read “cyclists shall walk”.

The second issue related to erosion of a road next to a river in Murchison that provided sole access to three residential homes (and forestry land). Cr Bryant, read out a letter from Rob Landau, that raised concerns over how council was responding (or not responding) to the problem. He felt the council should be proactive in resolving this problem and pointed out that part of the road was on reserve land. He felt council had a moral obligation (ie social justice) to do something, given council had authorised development along this road. The mayor indicated that a council delegation would investigate the issue further.

Minor improvements

The report sought council approval for 8 engineering projects that were discussed at an earlier workshop held on 2 July 2015. I was unable to attend that workshop, but did have the opportunity to read the supporting workshop documents.

The workshop documents outlined 21 potential minor improvement projects that were assessed against various criteria (eg, safety, risk, and community demand), so they could be ranked. Some of these projects were already on hold, pending further consultation (for example, Motueka’s signalised pedestrian crossing, Salisbury Road mid-block crossing, and four others). Of the 21 projects, the workshop documents provided additional detail of the 9 highest ranked projects (that were not already on hold).

By way of background, the NZTA had already approved council’s request for $2.97 million under minor improvements in the 2015-18 period under the Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP). This comprised: $966,000 (for 2015-16), $991,000 (for 2016-17), and $1,017,000 (for 2017-18). This funding was NZTA’s contribution towards the total cost of proposed minor improvement projects. The NZTA contribution provided 52% of the total cost of a qualifying project, with the council funding the remaining 48%.

The 9 projects considered at the workshop are outlined below.

Project Description Total Cost TDC Cost
Wallace Street pedestrian crossing, Motueka The speed limit on the street was 50km and there had been 3 incidents at the intersection (one was a car vs pedestrian incident) in the last 10 years. The project involved relocating the crossing an additional 3m east from the intersection and constructing a new kurb layout that reduced the street width near the intersection. $40,000.00 $19,200.00
Whakarewa Street intersection This was was a cross road intersection with a speed limit of 50km. There had been 10 incidents (2 serious) in the last 10 years. The project proposed sought to widen the turning area (that would allow a round-about in the future), improve line of sight, and cut back the existing traffic island. $100,000.00 $48,000.00
Mapua Drive footpath The speed limit along this road was currently 60km. There were no reported incidents in the last 10 years. The area was being developed for residential use (previously apple orchards). The project proposed a new foot path from Higgs Road intersection to Aranui Road. $200,000.00 $96,000.00
Mapua Drive round-about The speed limit was 60km and there had been 1 incident in the last 10 years. The project proposed a round-about (with four entrance roads) at the intersection, that would be co-funded by the developer, whose development would enter the round-about from a new road (Mapua Rise). Council were contributing up to $250,000 (50% of the expected costs). $250,000.00 $120,000.00
Lower Queen Street widening The speed limit is 70km and 1 incident along this part of the road had been reported in the last 10 years. The project proposed piping the 120m open drain near McShane Road. This would allow future widening of the road along this part of Queen Street. $150,000.00 $72,000.00
Motupipi Street (Meihana Street) intersection (opp Fonterra factory) The speed limit is 50km and there have been no reported incidents in the last 10 years at the “T” intersection. The project proposes removing the existing traffic island, adding a new traffic island in Meihanna Street, providing a right turning bay into Factory Road, and realigning the roads. $120,000.00 $57,600.00
Whiteside bridge widening The speed limit is 100km and there has been 1 incident in the last 10 years. The project proposes widening the box culvert by 3m to improve visibility when approaching or leaving George Harvey Road. $65,000.00 $31,200.00
Upper Moutere footpath The speed limit is 50km and there had been no reported incidents for the last 10 years. The project proposed a new foot path (100m) along the Moutre highway between Supplejack Valley Road and Sunrise Valley Road. $175,000.00 $84,000.00
Flett Road intersection, Moutere The speed limit on this bending part of the road is 100km and there had been 2 incidents in the last 10 years. The intersection had two entrance points (a “Y” intersection) and the project involved changing them to a single “T” intersection. $250,000.00 $120,000.00 *

* less the developer’s contribution of $69,000, under a consent order (of which the developer had paid $60,375).

Given possible legal issues around whether the Fleet Road project should proceed (or not), council resolved to defer the Flett Road project until legal advice and other solutions were considered.

Of the remaining projects, I raised concerns about: (1) Upper Moutre footpathing, (2) Lower Queen St piping, and (3) the Mapua drive footpath. I will discuss my reasons for challenging these projects below.

I also raised a broader question around the need to widen and rework so many roads. At the heart of this question was whether council needed to be investing so much into “minor” improvements. Something I had also raised when we were setting the long term plan. In my mind, just because we get a subsidy should not mean we should be throwing money at projects. Especially if they are minor.

By way of analogy, its like going into a retail shop sale and spending money during the “sale” event, because you have been able to receive a discount. The reality is that you still have to spend money to get the (perceived) saving.

I accept that the contribution does add value to council’s asset base – but the reality is that we cannot dispose or leverage those assets like in a private business.

The real question that councillors should be asking is do we really need to do this work and spend ratepayers money in this space. Is the work really needed now. And do we need to be doing so much work. Why can’t we spread these projects over a longer period, so they are affordable for ratepayers (the ones having to fund these projects). Why the urgency?

So many in the community question why council has to widen so many roads. It is seen as an unnecessary expense, at a time when the community cannot afford such rate increases. While the average rates increase across the district might be capped at 3%, the reality is that residential ratepayers rates increases are 1-2% above that mark.

It’s just not affordable when incomes are not increasing as fast. Rather, council need to be pulling back on its expenditure, in order to reign in rates increases to a more sustainable level. Minor improvements are seen as a luxury, that provide very minor benefits to a small part of the community. Rather, the money should be spent on major improvements – stuff that really needs to be done.

Unfortunately, some councilors did not appreciate me re-litigating discussions that had been had during the earlier workshop (or long term plan) – with accusations of “grandstanding” being made. I reminded the councillor that decisions were not made in workshops – a point the mayor had vigorously made in the newspapers some months earlier. Nor was my absence at the workshop, a license to not enter into a debate. The whole point of this public meeting was to debate the issues. If that meant items were re-litigated (from a private meeting) in the public forum, so be it. This was hardly grandstanding.

Further, while I appreciated I had lost the debate about the funding of minor improvements in the long term plan, I felt it was appropriate to raise the issue again, given we were now being confronted with the detail and reasons for these minor improvement projects. In my mind, council needed to take stock of the reality, and really ask if this work needed to be done.

Given the mood around the table was hardly embracing an examination of the proposed projects, I focused on the three projects that I had the greatest difficulty supporting. Namely, Upper Moutre footpath, Lower Queen St piping, and the Mapua drive footpath.

In my mind, the staff report did not provide enough evidence for me to see the justification for the Moutere footpath project. While there was mention by a councillor of safety issues for school children walking to school (a sensible justification), no mention of this reason was made in the report for justifying the project. Nor was there any mention of how many children (or adults) used this part of the road, or how many vehicles used the road at the same time?

If speed was the issue, then had alternative measures been deployed first? Was this a safety issue, or was it just a request to have a footpath by some residents because one it would be nice to have? Interestingly, the speed limit was 50km and there had been no reported incidents on this part of the road. The lack of any evidence to support a safety justification for the work, made it look like a luxury project – and I was not going to support a nice to have project. More information was required.

Fortunately, this argument found favour with the mayor and Cr King, and with their nod of approval it found favour with other councilors. Cr King also suggested that a footpath was unlikely to prevent a speeding car hitting a pedestrian and he suggested a driver feedback sign be deployed while further information was being gathered.

In my mind, the lower Queen Street piping project was another road widening exercise. More road widening for the sake of widening roads in anticipation of more vehicle use. Having visited a number of residents, one complaint that came across from residents when talking about road works was the perception of the council undertaking quite unnecessary work, which they had to fund. It is a message that was also clearly conveyed in the recent residents survey. The message I tried to convey in the council chamber was that the community did not want any more roads widened.

Unlike the Moutere project (which had no road incidents), there had been one incident along this road, which had involved a vehicle going into the open ditch. Having driven down this road many times I was left wondering how someone could drive into the ditch? It was not clear in the report if it was the road or driver error that caused the incident. I suspect it was the later. Given it did not result in a fatality, was quite rare (one incident in ten years), and involved just 120 metres of the road, I could not see why we would want to pipe this part of the road, at this time. Put to the vote, I was the only one who did not support this project.

Mapua Drive was another footpath project. Those who have driven down this road (the old road to Motueka via Ruby bay), will be aware that the old apple orchard at the top of the hill has been replaced with a new residential development. A few houses have begun to appear already and a new round-about is about to be installed at the Higgs Road intersection.

The project proposed a footpath from the proposed roundabout down the hill towards the old Mapua Tavern on the corner. The justification was it would be used by new residents wanting to walk to Mapua, and in particular, the local school. In my opinion, the road in question was already very wide and provided sufficient distance from traveling vehicles to make walking on the edge of the road fairly safe (especially in comparison to the Moutere footpath project). In my opinion, people would probably want to walk down Higgs Road, rather than Mapua drive. Was council footpathing the wrong road? Further, the Motueka bypass had removed a number of vehicles (including heavy vehicles) off Mapua Drive.

In my mind, the project anticipated use, rather than responding to demand. If we are to reduce costs (and rates) “minor” projects needed to react to need, rather than anticipating need. So often council over invest in the wrong areas based on misinformed assumptions. Surely, the better approach was to defer this project to another year (or two), to see if there was such a need? What if all the residents were retirees? There was simply no evidence to justify this project. If it was a safety issue, then it should have been a “major” project, and more information around safety provided in the report – but, there was none.

In my opinion, we should be doing half of the minor projects we were proposing to do each year. And this was another nice to have, aesthetically pleasing, (minor) project, that could have waited.

Again, I was voted down.

Engineering activity

Engineering activity highlights include:

  • Gladstone Road traffic lights. These are to be monitored by new cameras and once installed (by July) will allow NZTA’s traffic operations centre in Wellington to manage the lights more effectively during peak hours. Effectively, automation over-ride by a central control room. Other minor adjustments will also be made around the same time to improve traffic flow.
  • New ice lights. These have been installed on Koere-Tophouse Road, Kerr Hill, Motueka Valley Highway, and Riwak-Sandy bay Road.
  • New LED lights. 100 LED lights have been installed during July.
  • School campaigns. A back to school print and radio promotion was run in term one to remind drivers to slow down and expect children around schools. Another campaign was held in June to “look out” for kids crossing roads.
  • Rubbish. Illegal rubbish dumping (fly tipping) has occurred in the Waimea. Electronic surveillance has been deployed on one site.
  • Rivers. River maintenance expenditure (2014-15) was $1,385,000 ($605,000 under budget). These funds will be carried forward into the next financial year. River classification “Z” funding is 50% subsidised by central government. There were only two applications for funding of River “Z” work (in Murchison). Waimea river hydraulic modeling will be undertaken to measure current performance of mitigation measures and aid future modeling.
  • Jackett Island. Sandbags remain in good condition, although there appears to be some erosion to the north.
  • Marahau boat launching ramp. The steel walkway to the timber jetty has been reinstalled.
  • Ruby bay revetment wall. The repair of steps from Tait Street to the foreshore have been deferred until storm water outlet repair work has been completed.
  • Solid waste. The new recycling service is now up and running. In my opinion, this has been a very well managed transition to a new service and staff should take some satisfaction in its implementation. Feedback from residents I have spoken to so far (I’m doing a mid-term walk about in Richmond), have nothing but praise for the new service. Of course, there will be glitches, but its the putting right that counts. And in case you were wondering, your recycling bin has an average life expectancy of 10-15 years.
  • York Valley. Work also continues on a regional landfill agreement (at York Valley) with NCC. In my opinion, this is a no brainer, and it surprises me that NCC councillors have not been more supportive of the initiative. No doubt NCC’s review of the proposal (by Deloitte) will show this is a good proposal for the region. And hopefully the start of a few more joint service initiatives that save ratepayers in both regions money (and rates).

MWH presentation

The presentation was intended to introduce key members of the MWH engineering team to councilors. The presentation outlined the international experience of the company and their areas of expertise (see http://www.mwhglobal.com).

MWH had been an established provider of engineering advice to council for 15 years. For example, MWH were currently engaged to provide storm water modeling advice to council.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2015/2015-08-13.

Recycling centre – opening

Finally, after the meeting was closed, councillors were invited to attend the opening of the new recycling centre. Crs Mirfin, Norris, Dowler, Higgins, Sangster, and myself attended with the mayor.

It is an amazing operation and will be of real benefit to Tasman (and perhaps Nelson) region in reducing the amount of waste going to landfills (and the cost of operating landfills). And that has to be good for the environment (and the ratepayers pocket).

Media references

http://nelsonlive.co.nz/news/2015/08/new-state-art-recycling-plant/

http://nelsonlive.co.nz/news/2015/07/smooth-start-new-recycle-bins/

http://nelsonlive.co.nz/news/2015/08/video-new-recycling-plant-unveiled/

 

Extra full council meeting (19 February)

The full council met on 19 February 2015. This meeting was not part of the normal cycle of full council meetings as it was dedicated to the long term plan (LTP) for 2015-25 and associated consultation document. Cr Mirfin submitted his apologies, otherwise all councillors were present.

The agenda considered the following items: (1) CEO briefing, (2) Waimea community dam, (3) rates remissions policy review, (4) commercial subcommittee terms of reference, (5) maori consultation processes, (6) other supporting documents for the LTP.

This meeting was then followed by a workshop on the content and layout of the consultation document.

In relation to the full council meeting the main areas of interest for me were the first three items and I intend to concentrate on these items.

The maori consultation process was confirmed, as was the publication of supporting documents for the LTP. Although I continue to have issues with a number of spending proposals in these documents (eg, William Street traffic lights proposal costing $1 million, and the timing of storm water work in the Richmond South area – more urgency is required).

CEO briefing

Council were given a brief update on the following items:

  • Finance: For the 6 month period, ended 31 December 2014, council produced an accounting adjusted surplus of $2.6 million (after adjusting for capital income, vested assets, development contributions and interest rate swap revaluations) against budget. Interestingly, revaluation of interest rate swaps (which total $147.78 million) provided an accounting loss of $1.8 million. By way of background, interest rate swaps are a hedge against higher interest rates (a bit like fixing your mortgage). This month our swap rate was higher than the market. Which is surprising given our average interest rate for swaps is 5.288%. So, if we had sold our interest rate swaps back to the bank at the current market rate this month, we would have made a loss. Conversely, if our swap rate is lower than the market then we would make a theoretical gain, although we would have to refinance our debt at higher rate. This fluctuation does not cost council any cash, as we are not selling them (although it might be a good time to buy more swaps, if we were in the market) – rather its done for accounting purposes, which we are required to report on. It’s likely that as current interest rates hold up (above our swap rate) council will continue to build up an accounting loss, until such time as the market interest rate trends back up.
  • Jackett Island: the claim for future costs has been settled by agreement ending the environment court proceedings – the insurers are managing any civil claim.
  • Building control: last year the IANZ accreditation audit identified an issue with TDC’s tracking system for responding to building consents approaching the 20 day limit. In the last month, no building consent application exceeded the 20 day limit, the backlog had been reduced, and compliance was now over 90%.
  • Restructure: A new building control manager (tier three) position had been created which has taken over management of the building compliance function and will operate within the regulatory section of TDC.
  • Port Tarakohe: The mussel industry has made a pricing compliant to the commerce commission alleging TDC is making super profits from its new commercial charges regime. In my opinion, the new weigh bridge and more timely and accurate billing is clearly having an impact on some operations bottom line.
  • Best island access: Several meetings have been held with affected residents on a proposal for council to acquire land for a public road in order to address access issues for those residents.
  • Nelson tourism and economic development agency: Meetings have been held to discuss work plans for both organisations. In my opinion, strategic activities (including more actively supporting the international education sector) and measurable performance outcomes need to be agreed.

The council wage bill

Council staff were also asked to provide information on council’s wage budget (currently round 18% of total expenditure) and how it compares to other authorities. Cr Inglis, Higgins, and myself have been pursuing this issue for sometime.

While there are few unitary councils to make comparisons with, and unitary council functions are broader than district or regional councils, the councils wage bill is still a percentage (or ratio) of its overall cost of performing its functions. If a council has more functions it will have more income and more expenditure, but wage expenditure should still be comparable.

In my opinion, benchmarking the councils operational activities and costs is important. Given unitary councils comprise both district and regional council functions, some detailed analysis separating out those separate functions, could be undertaken with a little effort (with shared services apportioned), to provide direct comparison with district or regional councils.

I understand the local government association (LGA), have on its agenda, the provision of benchmarking tools for council governance. If the government want to see local government costs come down, I would have thought they would have been a keen supporter (and potential funder) of such tools.

Note! As pointed out by one reader, Local authorities must disclose their performance in relation to identified statutory benchmarks (see section 9 of the Local Government (Financial Reporting and Prudence) Regulations 2014). I agree. However, these statutory benchmarks are very different to the type of benchmarking I am suggesting. I am talking about benchmarking “between” councils on information not currently required by statute to be benchmarked. The statutory benchmarks listed in section 10 of the Local Government (Financial Reporting and Prudence) Regulations 2014 are: rates affordability (reg 17), debt affordability (reg 18), balanced budget (reg 19), essential services (reg 20), debt servicing (reg 21), debt control (reg 22), and operations control (reg 23). These benchmarks are generally a high level comparison against quantified limits set by council or statute. For example, comparing the council’s planned rates increase with a quantified limit on rates increases contained in the council’s financial strategy.

I also believe its about time council was subject to an independent organisational review. As a governance body, council should regularly review if the council is operating efficiently. An independent review will either confirm the organisation is right sized and operating efficiently, or make suggestions for improvements.

Either way ratepayers would have greater confidence in the organisation of council and that their money is being spent wisely. Unfortunately, there appears to very little support around the council table (including the mayor) for such a review. Hopefully a wage comparison, might push them towards a much needed review.

Waimea community dam

There were two issues to be considered: (1) a revised structure of the arrangement, and (2) funding of a new private entity.

The suggested re-structure was not a surprise as we had been briefed at an earlier workshop. These days I tend to find the workshops more informative (and useful) than the actual committee meetings (that formally present the staff paper and recommendations).

This is because, much of the debate and councillors positions on the issue, have been worked through at the workshop. This means much of the debate around the table is often making a last argument for not supporting (or supporting) the staff recommendation.

A revised structure

In essence, the proposed arrangements confirmed at the earlier council meeting of 9 December 2014 has changed. At the December meeting it was proposed (and supported by the majority of council) that a CCO would be formed and it would co-ordinate external funding (amongst other tasks). That structure is outlined below.

DamStructure1-2015

Ironically, my opposition to forming a CCO and allowing the irrigators to form their own investment holding company (Waimea Community Dam Ltd, or “WCDL”) has now been taken up by the irrigators. They now proposed a revised structure whereby WCDL secures funding from the Crown and irrigators. This new structure is illustrated below.

DamStructure2-2015

 

This new structure reflects the fact that irrigators will now be the major financial contributors to the dam, as they look to secure funding from the Crown and irrigators.

By way of background, the council’s contribution to a dam is limited to $25 million – made up of urban water ($8 million) and environmental ($14 million), with the remaining $3 million for administration costs. This would suggest that WCDL has to secure the remainder ($50 million) from irrigators and the Crown.

I agree with this structure. Its very similar to what I suggested in my dissenting opinion in December. However, I maintain that a CCO does not yet need to be established, until a decision on whether we proceed with a dam (or not), is decided. If a dam is agreed, then the reasons for forming a CCO need to be considered at that time.

In my opinion, the cost of establishing and maintaining a CCO does not warrant its formation at this time. During the consultation phase on governance formation of a CCO was estimated to cost about $100,000 (plus ongoing costs, like directors fees). Establishing a company also invites tax, accounting, and company compliance costs that a “council” does not need to bother itself with. Council could quite easily enter into contractual negotiations with WCDL directly for the supply of water augmentation services. As it has done with NCC over the delivery of tourism services.

A reason to form a CCO is the benefit of skills and knowledge that directors could provide. However, in this instance, the CCO would not be managing the dam, unlike governance struture 1. Rather, it is a holding company for council investment. Furthermore, management and technical skills would be provided by TDC under contract. So there do not appear to be any benefits at this time in forming a CCO?

Given no government funding for urban or environmental contributions has been forthcoming, there seems little reason to form a CCO at this time. It might be that such funding is not contingent on a CCO being formed? Why jump the gun?

To date, the mayor has made no noise about securing government funding for the environmental contribution, or seeking government to underwrite any cost blow outs for the council’s contribution.

Having looked at a guide on when councils should form a CCO (see http://wellington.govt.nz/~/media/your-council/council-controlled-organisations/files/whatworks.pdf), I could find no compelling case for forming a CCO.

Given assurances during the consultation phase that cost blow outs were unlikely, I would have thought it would have been easy for the government to underwrite any cost blow outs above the $8 million urban water supply contribution. And given the broad public benefit of protecting the environment, the government should have come to the party on the environmental cost. Perhaps its time to write to Nick myself?

Funding

The other issue before council was the provision of “ongoing funding” for WCDL to engage with irrigators and the Crown. The source of this funding was proposed to come from the Waimea Water Augmentation Project surcharge which generates about $81,000 per year. This amount would be given to WCDL in the 2015-16 year.

I proposed loaning these funds (as an amendment to the resolution), rather than just handing them over to WCDL. Cr Canton seconded my motion, but no other councillors supported this change. In my mind, this was a private investment holding vehicle, not a council owned or controlled entity, and council had a duty to protect public funds.

Giving the money as a loan would provide security as a creditor should WCDL prove unsuccessful. Giving WCDL the money, provide no security at all. Further, when questioned, the CEO could see no reason why the funds could not be provided as a loan. Either way, WCDL would obtain funding. Although some councillors raised there own reasons for why it should not be a loaned during the debate.

Rates remissions policy review

At present, the council has a policy that remits rates on properties that have been subject to re-zoning. The policy provides the council a discretion in terms of how long the remission period will last.

To provide certainty (and transparent fairness) to the process it was raised during a workshop whether council should prescribe the length of the remission period. At that workshop it was suggested that a 10 year period be provided, with the last 3 years stepping down the remission towards the payment of the full rates bill. At that meeting other lengths of time were discussed, including 6 and 4 years. Some on council felt there should be no grace period, effectively rescinding the remission policy.

In my mind, a reasonable period of time should be provided. Through no fault of their own, but rather due to council’s actions of rezoning, they are placed in the very awkward financial position they find themselves in. Providing a reasonable period of time enables people to leave their land with dignity and without being pressured to sell for a low price. Alternatively, ratepayers should be given the opportunity to re-engineer their incomes so they can afford to stay or redevelop the land themselves. In my opinion, to do otherwise, only benefits the next purchaser.

The fundamental issue for me, is that council should not be in the business of forcing people off their land and out of their homes. This principle has strong support in the community – as evidenced by the submissions made on the governance and funding options for the proposed Waimea community dam.

This principle also had some support around the council table. Although there are a few councillors who adopt a more extreme utilitarian approach to the issue. That approach reared its head again during this debate.

Essentially the question before council was whether there should be a sunset clause added to the remission of rates on land that has increased in value due to re-zoning.

In such cases, re-zoning can exponentially increase the value of a property based on its new potential value. The Headingly Lane incident was apparently the driver for this remission policy. The increase in rates can be unsustainable for the property owner, and often they are forced to dispose of the land to a property developer or someone who can obtain more income from the land to afford the new rates bill.

Against this, is the need to ensure land is available for development. A key part of the housing shortage (and high values) is the supply of land. Although, whether this is a driver in the Tasman region, is a moot point.

I supported a 10 year period, comprising a 100% remission of the increase in rates for the first 6 years, and a stepped down remission (of 20%) for each of the next 4 years (eg, 6+4 year remission policy). I moved this motion as an amendment to the current policy, supported by Cr Bouillir.

No other councillors supported this motion, as they favoured a shorter period – either: 4+2 years (with the last 2 years remitted at 33%), or 1+3 years.

Cr Ensor questioned why I would support such a long time given the cost to council and given my drive to reduce costs for council. I explained, that my support of a longer remission period (the 6+4 year period) reflected the tension between saving costs and ensuring people were not force out of their homes. I also did not perceive there was any “real” cost to council. The increase in value did not affect the councils costs. In fact, remitting the rate just meant that council did not get an increase in income. Councils costs remained unchanged, whether the land increased in value or not.

On losing this amendment, I made it clear I could not support any shorter period as I considered it unfair and mean spirited, and would prefer council discretion (the current policy) to anything else.

Especially when placed in the context of the Tapu bay issue, where some councillors supported giving a life interest in a holiday bach (or crib if you are from the deep south) to the owner of the bach (that was not that person’s home), rather than enforce the councils policy of removing private bachs from public land, and yet were willing to force people out of their homes within a much shorter period.

On that basis I informed council I would be voting against both shorter remission periods.

Other councillors realising that a no vote on a 4+2 remission period, might force an even shorter period, asked to defer this item to the next full council meeting.

The full council meeting on 5 March will be deciding on the final state of this policy.

Agenda and minutes

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/2015/2015-02-19.

Engineering services committee meeting (3 July)

The engineering committee meeting was held on 3 July 2014.

This was one of the briefest engineering committee agendas I had read for a long time. The meeting agenda included: (1) an LED lighting upgrade program for 14 coastal streets, (2) closure of the Collingwood Resource Recovery Centre from July 2015, and (3) the engineering managers update report (covering various topics, including; a service agreement with NZTA over Golden Bays SH60 network, Jackett Island work, and various water works).

For a full list of the engineering department’s capital works programs, see pages 43 to 51 of the agenda.

This post will highlight those items that received the most interest from councilors.

Solid waste, landfill, and resource recovery

A decision was required on the continued operation of the Collingwood and Murchison Resource Recovery Centres and whether they should continue to operate from July 2015.

Council resolved to continue with the Murchison operation, but to close the Collingwood centre. The decision was mainly driven by fiscal considerations. However, the closure would be offset by a weekly pick up service (from the same location), whereby rubbish could be loaded into a truck parked at the Collingwood centre, and then shuttled to the Takaka centre.

A thorough and well balanced report was presented to council and can be read at pages 21 to 32 of the Agenda. In summary, the Collingwood centre was heavily subsidised by rates (89%) and was losing money without any prospect of future growth to offset the losses. Basically, it was under used. Given it was only 25km from the Takaka centre, it was logical to consolidate operations with Takaka. Councillors were aware that the closure would provide an inconvenience to some ratepayers (a 50km round trip) so provision for a weekly truck service located at the Collingwood centre was provided for. In my opinion, this seemed a fair compromise. The alternative would have been to increase the charges for using the centre – to enable it to break even. However, the required increases in charges would have been prohibitive.

Street lighting

The council decided to roll out new LED lighting as part of a planned lamp replacement program of 396 lamps across several settlements. The decision was mainly driven by projected long term savings and the fact the additional upfront costs could be absorbed within existing budgets due to the projected savings.

The replacement of 396 high pressure sodium lamps was expected to cost $52,000. Over a period of 20 years, replacement costs would be expected to be around $396,000. For the same 20 year period, LED lights could be expected to cost $241,560. The expected payback period for LED light capital investment was 8 years. In addition, LED lights would provide additional power savings of $20,000 per year. Understandably, the roll out of LED lights was pretty much a no brainer.

By way of background, the district has 2,890 street lights, with the majority of these being high pressure sodium lamps. The total energy use is estimated at 1,037,000 (kilowatt hours) kWh per year. Council spends around $270,000 per year on street lighting energy. This budget is expected to increase in line with future power prices and the development of new subdivisions. NZTA currently subsidise street lighting maintenance and renewals at a rate of 49%.

High pressure sodium lamps have an approximate life of 12,000 kWh or around 3 years before the level of lighting drops below 70% of Lumen output. In contrast, LED lamps have a life expectancy in excess of 100,000 kWh which is equivalent to 20 years of operation at approximately 4000 kWh per year.

The latest LED lighting technology can provide a reduction in energy consumption of up to 70% as well as cost savings in maintenance due to the longer life of LED lighting. However, LED lights are more expensive per unit than high pressure sodium lamps.

Jacket Island

An update report on Jackett Island was provided. The Council is required to maintain the foreshore of the Van Dyke Family Trust for a period of 3 years until January 2017 (see http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZEnvC/2014/1.html). The Van Dyke Family Trust has initiated a civil claim against the Council in the High Court for costs and diminution of value of their Jackett Island property.

A survey of the Jackett Island foreshore was completed in late March. The results indicate there has been minimal change over the last 3 months to the beach surface and intertidal platform. Damage that was caused to the sandbag wall from Cyclone Lusi was repaired on 7 May 2014 by utilising surplus bags that were recovered from the northern end of the existing wall.

NZTA Agreement

Council has entered into an agreement with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for the provision of SH60 Golden Bay network management services from 1 July 2014 to March 2016. The services will be provided for State Highway 60 for the length of 75 km from the Riwaka River Bridge to the end of SH60 at Collingwood.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located a http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2014/2014-07-03.

Full council meeting (19 June)

A full council extraordinary meeting was held on 19 June 2014 following the community development meeting. Apologies were received from Cr Higgins and myself.

The meeting provided an update on recent damage suffered by the sandbag wall on Jacket Island. Under an environment court order (see see http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZEnvC/2014/1.html), the council was required to “hold the line” on Jackett Island, until January 2017, in order to address any potential erosion of the Island until a long term solution could be considered by all parties. Council were advised that $150,000 would be required in order to maintain the structural integrity of the sandbag wall. My advice was to support the staff’s recommendation, as council had to abide by the court order.

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/2014/2014-06-19Extraordinary.

Engineering Services Committee (21 November)

This was a busy week. And hence the lateness of these posts.

Busy because on 15 November I attended two public hearings relating to Freedom Camping and Psychoactive Substances, followed by a further hearing from 18-20 November in relation to the Olive Estate lifestyle development, followed by the Engineering Services committee and Urban Design Forum meetings on 21 November.

I won’t dwell on any of the hearings apart from making one observation in respect of the Freedom Camping debate. It became apparent very early on in the hearing that there was a great deal of confusion surrounding the council’s proposal to change the Freedom Camping rules. Confusion because there appeared to be a feeling from those attending the hearing that the council was removing the freedom camping rules, when in fact it was replacing them with new rules that provided for a far higher level of enforcement.

Engineering Services Committee

The Engineering Services Committee meeting was held on 21 November. Apologies for not attending this meeting were received from Cr Higgins and Cr Edgar.

Similar to the Community development meeting held the previous week, there were a number of reports submitted to council requiring no decision. These reports are interesting in that they show the wide level of activity that the council is involved in.

A public forum was also held. Maxwell Clarke raised concerns over council’s debt level and suggested some projects including the proposed water storage project (known as the lee valley dam) should be delayed beyond the long term plan. Concerns over the closure of the Richmond reuse shop were also raised.

The agenda for this meeting comprised a number of reports and issues including: (1) the designation of Whitwell’s car park in Motueka (which is owned by Wakatu Incorporation and leased to Whitwell Holdings Ltd), (2) the Motueka flood control project (which I will discuss below), (3) the engineering departments procurement strategy and process (eg, for tendering out roading work), (4) appointment of councillors to water supply committees and working parties, (5) the recent past and future planned activities of the engineering department, (6) Jackett Island’s erosion problem and the proposed long term solution, (7) Mapua wharf’s maintenance issues, (8) the Riwaka flood  bank, (9) LED street lighting trial (occurring in Norman Andrews Place in Richmond), and (10) a confidential session in relation to the potential purchase of land (or not) in relation to Warring car park.

Motueka Flood Control Project

The Motueka flood control project has been and continues to be a big issue for Motueka. As Cr Canton pointed out at the meeting, many councillors during the election had voiced their support for the project and the flooding concerns of residents. As I have stated in earlier posts on this blog, council  need to seriously start reviewing spending decisions.

The financial cost of the project can best be summarised as follows. The Long Term Plan (the 2012-22, 10 year LTP) estimated the Motueka flood protection project would cost $5million (which was a reduction of the original $10.5 million that was originally estimated), with $700,00 budgeted for 2013-14 to progress consent and design works. To date, $632,000 had been raised from loans and spent on feasibility and investigation costs.

While $632,000 had already been spent, those funds had contributed to more accurate modelling that had indicated that flooding from breaches in the stop bank caused by saturation in a 1-in-100 year rain event, would not be as extensive as previously assumed. New modelling suggested that there would be less area flooded and the height of potential flooding in the township would not be high (at best 10cm high). The revised modelling also indicated that the river flooding risk of Motueka township was small for a stop bank breach scenario. Further, those areas that would be most hit by flooding, were more likely to have been flooded because of coastal inundation, than stop bank failure. Thus, investment in preventing stop bank failure to prevent flooding in a severe weather event might be a waste of money, as coastal inundation would still occur, resulting in those areas still being flooded.

There was also the risk that $5 million of stop bank strengthening work might not have fully prevented stop bank failure over the whole of the stop bank. In effect, a breach might have occurred in an area of the stop bank that was not subject to any strengthening work, thus making any strengthening work useless. This is not a strong argument in itself (as council had enabled this argument to be made by not fully funding the project to the tune of $10.5 million, so that all of the stop bank could be strengthened), but it is one to be taken into the mix, when considering if it is worthwhile to continue with a $5 million project.

On the basis of the revised modelling which showed less overall impact, the impact of costal inundation (which was outside of the projects control), and the fact a half baked strengthening project might not prevent a stop bank breach, I agreed with the council staff’s recommendation not to proceed with the project as proposed in the LTP. The benefit (flood protection) just was not there, for the costs involved.

I imagine on principle, Cr Canton objected to the recommendation on the basis of his campaign position. All other councillors present supported the removal of the projects future cost to the ratepayer. I felt that this was a good outcome and perhaps the tide was beginning to turn. Was the message of debt reduction and keeping rates down getting through. If there was any hesitation about the tide of decision making on council, it was the fact that councillors had not actually taken the initiative themselves, but instead had relied on council staff to promote the obvious cost saving measure to them. My impression to date is that council tend to support staff recommendations and are hesitant to challenge the information and recommended decision placed in front of them.

On this decision I give council 6/10. Improving, but someway to go yet. Especially given council’s reluctance to defer investigative spending on the Golden Bay community centre (see earlier post) until after we have decided owe want to commit to such a project, and future decisions on investment on entertainment events (Council should be enabling and facilitating these events, not bank rolling them).

Procurement processes

In regard to the procurement processes of the engineering department, my only observation is that council need to be benchmarking their processes against other councils to ensure we are not outside normal practices. Its also an opportunity to take onboard best practices that might appear from looking at how others conduct procurement. It appeared that council staff thought this was possibly a good idea and undertook to further investigate such an opportunity.

Water Supply Committee and Working Party Appointments

The following appointments (recommended by council staff on the basis of locality) were made:

  • Dovedale rural water supply committee: Cr Norriss
  • Eighty-Eight Valley rural water supply committee: Cr King
  • Redwoods rural water supply committee: Cr Bouillir and Cr Sangster
  • Hamama rural water supply committee: Cr Bouillir and Cr Sangster
  • Wa-iti Valley community dam users group: Cr King and Cr Higgins
  • Wakefield water and Eighty-Eight Valley rural water working group: Cr King and Cr Bryant
  • Takaka wastewater treatment plant upgrade working group: Cr Norriss, Cr Bouillir, Cr Sangster, and Golden Bay Community Board members.
  • Motueka wastewater treatment plant upgrade working group: Cr Norriss, Cr Dowler, Cr Canton, Cr Inglis, and Motueka Community Board members.
  • Joint waste minimisation and management plan working group: Cr Bryant, Cr Edgar, and Cr Dowler.

Engineering activities

The engineering department reported on a number of interesting activities. These included:

  • Staff restructure: A recent restructuring that increased full-time staff levels from 21 to 39 staff (increasing staff by 18 with a corresponding increase in wages by just over $1 million). This was the result of bringing in staff to undertake work that had in the past been contracted out in order to make substantial planned savings and service level improvements.
  • Refuse waste: The operation of the Richmond refuse shop is under review after the Kahurangi Employment Trust advised the Council that it did not wish to continue after the council proposed increasing the lease costs of the refuse shop from a peppercorn rental to a more commercial rate. Recent increases in refuse (31% increase in commercial refuse and 19% increase in residential refuse since last year) and a shortage of waste transport bins has led to difficulty in processing and transporting waste. There have been increases in construction and demolition waste from outside of Richmond.
  • Roading: Slip repairs from June 2013 are ongoing. An innovative bush layer wall system is being trailed at the Riwaka-Sandy Bay Road. Bridge pier protection at Hoult Valley Road West is progressing. Fonterra has been given “temporary” approval by NZTA to increase their standard tanker loading. Some intersections may require seal widening to accommodate these larger vehicles. This work is being added to the minor improvements work list. Brooklyn Valley road work is ongoing. Drainage and culvert repair and maintenance work is ongoing on Dry Road and Cowin Road. Road widening (via bank cutting and binding) is to be completed during November to ensure vehicles are kept away from an under slip. A bridge approach sealing program is being devised which will include a number of golden bay bridges and will be added to the Pohara Road widening work project to improve cost efficiencies. Matiiri Valley Road (Murchison) has had 6 culverts replaced with another 4 culverts yet to be replaced.
  • Cleaning: Richmond town centre’s sundial square’s pavers are to be cleaned before Christmas. I had to question this work as the square looked tidy to me and seemed an unnecessary non-urgent expense. Especially if the area might be affected by future Queen Street road works. It seemed to me that, that was the time to clean up the square.
  • Rivers: The Riwaka River required emergency repairs arising from erosion threatening the stop banks during the June floods (being a 1-in-17 year flood event). The Shaggery River (or Old West Bank channel) leo required emergency work. The June flood also affected the Dove River widening the river channel in places as well as depositing large amounts of gravel above some of the bridges. A greater focus on stop bank maintenance is continuing with further work planned. Council staff are working with landowners to remove gravel. However, to progress gravel extraction future consent hearings may have to be held.
  • Road safety: From 1 November 2013, the law regarding child restraints changed. Children up to 7 years (formerly 5 years) must be restrained in an approved child restraint (see http://www.nzta.govt.nz/about/media/releases/2669/news.html).
  • Richmond town centre: A draft richmond town centre framework (December 2012, revised January 2013) has been prepared outlining possible future development of the Richmond town centre. A Project Board will be established to bring together various storm water, wastewater and water improvements, land use and parking rules to ensure an integrated approach. The project will aim to up upgrade underground utilities and improve traffic and parking management.
  • Work still to be completed for 2013-14 (ie, up to June 2014): Reservoir creek dam – new spillway ($431,201), Rewika-Kaiterteri road realignment ($1,170,329), champion road culvert upgrade ($500,000), remediation of slips along Abel Tasman drive ($2,078,278), Richmond reservoir work ($2,613,737), Water meter replacements ($641,196), Talbot Street and Valhalla Drive water pipe upgrades ($371,900), and Clifton sewer upgrade ($1,020,737).

Jackett Island

A groyne was installed on the Motueka Spit by the Council in 1996. The Environment Court held that erosion on Jackett Island was caused by the groyne. The Motueka groyne was removed in October 2012. The parties subsequently agreed to a cut through the Motueka spit. While the location of the spit has been agreed, the design (and cost) of the Spit remains outstanding. A decision from the Environment Court for a long term solution is expected soon. The aim of the cut is to reduce water flows and hence erosion forces together with sand replenishment on the Jackett Island foreshore. Damage (caused by September 2013 storms) to the sand bag wall has meant remedial work (of $80,000) was required to be undertaken by the Council.

Mapua Wharf

A fire on 1 August 2013 caused fire damage to the Mapua Wharf. A structural inspection identified a number of joists and piles underneath the wharf required urgent remedial work. The work is expected to cost $13,000 (plus GST) and will come from existing council funds. The inspection highlighted several medium-rem structural issues that require future attention. Approximately $15,000 every two years is required for this work.

Links to agenda and minutes

A copy of the engineering services committee agenda and minutes can be found at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2013/2013-11-21.