The engineering services committee meeting was held on 17 December 2015. Apologies were received from Cr Edgar and King. All other councillors were present.
The agenda included: (1) water allocation guidelines, (2) road maintenance procurement co-operation, (3) school zones, (4) engineering department activity report, and (5) the chairs report. Overall, this was a pretty straightforward information update meeting.
Presentations were received from Martyn Barlow and Jean Gorman.
Martyn speaking on behalf of the Mapua Boat Club updated council on a public meeting held in Mapua (120 people attended) about the Mapua wharf boat ramp. He expressed the communities feeling that they had been let down by the Waimea-Moutere councillors (Crs Norris, King and Ensor) and had not been well represented. He asked that council begin working constructively with the Mapua Boat club.
Jean from Spring Grove spoke about flooding and berm issues. She identified that a culvert pipe in Telenius Road was too small to take storm water flows And at least every 2 years the road flooded. A long term solution was needed. Jean also asked that council consider the installation of berms within the Pitfure Valley to help detain water (and reduce flooding).
Annual NZTA road trip
The annual New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) bus tour was held on 4 December 2015. The trip visited a number of road related sites between Richmond, Moutere, Tapawera, and Motueka. The usual suspects from the State Highway Liaison Group were present.
Water allocation guidelines
Council agreed to receive and endorse the water allocation guidelines. Status quo maintained.
Several council water supply schemes (in particular Mapua) are acknowledged to be close to their capacity (or are experiencing competition for water use). Engineering staff reviewed and reconfirmed the current practice guidelines (used to allocate, transfer, or share water) is sound.
The water allocation guidelines (a single page document on page 15 of the agenda) makes a clear distinction between rated water (water entitlements) for which a property is paying rates, commonly associated with a land use or building consent process, and allocated water generally associated with a subdivision process (or other mechanism) that is temporarily reserved for a property, but the council retains the right to reallocate.
Staff have pursued different approaches to water entitlements and water allocations in order to recognise different rights (associated with the water), while managing entitlements and allocations within a scheme to optimise water use. The amount of control that council exercises over water allocations is partly influenced by regulatory provisions and from the physical realities of water movement.
Under s 130 of the Local Government Act 2002, the council is required to continue to supply water to properties connected to the scheme. This underpins the existing user entitlement principle. The council’s Water Bylaw (at rule 9.17) restricts transfer of entitlements by customers, and provides authority for the council to have discretion regarding how to reuse any existing water entitlement or allocation surrendered by property owners.
Road maintenance procurement co-operation
Council agreed to receive the report and for staff to prepare a business case for joint urban road maintenance services (primarily in Richmond which immediately borders the Nelson urban area) with Nelson City Council (NCC).
I supported this resolution as part of my desire to see more shared service arrangements (where financially beneficial for all ratepayers) between TDC and NCC.
By way of background, a number of informal discussions have already occurred between NCC and TDC staff to consider opportunities to work together to gain efficiencies with road maintenance service delivery. These discussions have concluded that both networks are of a sufficient size that mutually beneficial economies of scale may be realised for the urban network including road marking, street sweeping, and general maintenance.
The council resolved to receive this update report. The report updated the committee on the work program and costs to install school zone signs (eg, static school zone signs, and 40km/hr variable school speed limit signs).
The report highlighted a priority list of all schools within the Tasman District that were likely to receive signs. The priority lists reflected those schools most at risk. Funds to cover the purchase and installation of signs would be taken from the Minor Safety Improvements budget.
Costs for the installation of static signs are outlined below. The cost for the installation of static signs includes signs placed on both sides of the roads and on both approaches to the school.
|Signs – “school zone 40”||
|Signs – “school zone ends”||
|Poles, bases, brackets and installation||
Costs for the installation of the 40km/hr variable school speed limit signs are outlined below. These costs are for installing one sign on both approaches to the school.
|Signs – “40 school zone”||
|Signs – “school zone ends”||
|Technology to run signs||
|Poles, bases, and brackets||
Budget constraints resulted in identifying the top 10 at risk schools for the project. Schools were ranked using several factors, including: speed environment, parking facilities, and average daily traffic count. Data on numbers of children walking/cycling to school, entering or leaving a vehicle on the roadside, and crossing the road still needed to be collected for some of the schools, before a final decision could be made in early 2016. The data would also be used to determine whether a school fits the NZTA warrant for a 40km/hr variable speed limit.
The schools (in ranked order) are: Ranzau, Motupipi, Hope, Central Takaka, Dovedale, Brooklyn, Motueka Rudolf Steiner, Mapua, Ngatimoti, Mahana, Lower Moutere, Takaka primary, Brightwater, Parklands, Appleby, Riwaka, Richmond primary, Henley, Golden Bay, Lake Rotoiti, St Peter Chanel, Motueka High, Upper Moutere, Tasman, Motueka South, St Pauls Catholic, Wakefield, Garin College, Tasman Bay Christian, Murchison Area, Tapawera Area, Te Kura Kaupapa, Salisbury, Waimea Intermediate, Waimea College, and Collingwood Area. Motueka Rudolf Steiner school was ranked seventh, but was removed from the top 10 list, as it fronts onto a state highway under the control of the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Cr Mirfin asked why Richmond schools were not ranked higher. It was explained that road speeds in Richmond were already low, and there were limited opportunities to place additional signage, without compromising visibility.
The engineering committee could expect a decision report in early 2016. Councillors asked that staff gave this issue urgent attention for an early decision.
Engineering department activity report
Highlights from the manager’s report include:
- Richmond catchment management plan (CMP) for management of quality and quantity of runoff in the Richmond catchments to support flood management and compliance with a discharge consent is behind schedule.
- Regional water supply and demand model is a a joint investigation with NCC as to the water future needs and supply options is on track.
- Joint Land Development Manual providing a common engineering standards/land development manual for NCC and TDC is on track. Good progress has been made on all chapters. Recent changes to the timing of the Nelson resource management plan review means this work will now take about 2 months longer. Staff expect to hold a stakeholder workshop in April or May 2016, before seeking approval to issue the draft manual for public-wide consultation. The manual requires changes to the two regional plans to give the new manual “effect” under the RMA.
- Asset management. Changes have been made to Explore Tasman to assist with visual identification of assets. A pipe break viewer will be expanded to allow live reporting of breaks, rather than a static snapshot. Improvements to the Confirm system setup and processes are continuing. Since the last report, 810 utilities’ asset features have been added, edited or deleted based on new subdivision works, repairs and council contracts as-built data received. Tracking and reporting of developments, infrastructure and subdivisions (TARDIS) system development is on track.
- Land developments.
- The council’s legal advisors are preparing a development agreement for an area in Richmond West which has a deferred residential zoning and has the potential for an additional 500 new dwellings. This area will be serviced by a new wastewater pressure sewerage system draining to Headingly Lane.
- Pre-discussions on future developments in Richmond South are continuing.
- Residential developments (60 lots) off Pitfure road in Wakefield are extending into residential zoned land. Discussion with the developer’s agent is continuing.
- A residential application (28 lots) to extend Talisman Heights at Kaiteriteri is about to be issued.
- Council has now secured land in Seaton Valley next to the Mapua Joint Venture (MJV) site in Mapua to act as a detention basin for the MJV development as well as all other deferred land in the vicinity. The lack of water supply to Mapua is still raised by developers and limits growth in this area. Investigations will continue to find ways to assist developers in overcoming this hurdle.
- Engineering plans for the Hart subdivision have been lodged and are currently in the final sign off process. The subdivision involves the construction of 31 new residential lots with a new connecting road from Pine Crest Drive (Trek Developments) to Hart Road. The existing creek within the property will be realigned and upgraded to cope with a Q100 flood event with 500mm of freeboard.
- Stage three of a subdivision in Grey Street Motueka is currently under construction comprising 36 residential sections.
- The last stage of the Trek Development (22 residential allotments) extending off Fairose Drive is nearing completion and all construction works except the final sealing of the road will also be completed prior to Christmas.
- Projects. Waimea Community Dam (P1025) $25m funding in LTP. Additional funding required. Irrigator business case and CCO/JV structure is under review. Richmond Church Street Water Pipeline (P1039) installs a new water line and remove the existing while maintaining water to properties. Project on hold. Bateup Road Widening (P1047) The widening and upgrade of Bateup Road from 3 brothers corner to Paton Road to accommodate residential and commercial development in Richmond South. Lower Queen Street Widening (P1043) Reconstruction of Lower Queen Street to provide for future growth in Richmond West. Consent submitted. Design complete. Land purchase close to completion. Richmond Central Infrastructure (P967) Richmond central storm water improvements, upgrade utilities, reshaping road, amenity improvements in Queen Street. Subject to public engagement on Queen Street reinstatement design.
- Water network. Renewal of the Tapawera water treatment plant is nearing completion. A split in the liner of the Kaiteriteri main reservoir liner has been identified near the top of the tank and will require repair.
- Wastewater. Blockages at pump stations continue to be an issue. The aeration basin at Motueka WWTP has been repaired, scour pads laid and the pond refilled.
- Solid waste. Recycling ollection tonnages are around 20% higher than last year.
- Jackett Island. The last inspection was carried out on 7 September 2015 and everything was found to be in good order.
Cr Norris chaired the Hearings Panel for the Speed Limit Bylaw Review together with Crs Dowler, Higgins, and Sangster. According to Cr Norris there were 19 submitters. Although, as I later discovered one submission (in relation to Ranzau Road) included over 160 signatories. Despite his acknowledgement of the submitters “passion”, the panel did not deviate from the staff’s recommendations, and in Cr Norris’s own words “I am pleased to report that all proposed speed limits were agreed”. So much for listening to the passionate plea’s of a few residents? Just another example of the captured, rubber stamping attendance culture, that has existed on this council for far too long.
Of course, its no secret that Cr Norris (a self confessed “dinosaur” – his words, not mine) and myself, do not always see eye to eye, in my efforts to push back against a long history and culture of increasing debt and poor spending decisions (I won’t rub salt into the Mapua development wound). However, I take comfort, in the knowledge that there are already some outstanding candidates putting up their hands to stand in the Waimea-Moutere Ward. I look forward to a few more good people standing up for their communities and putting up their hands in Waimea and Motueka Wards.
I should note, that all councillors swear an oath (clause 14, schedule 7 of the Local Government Act 2002) to act faithfully and impartially in the best interests of the district, not just the ward (or other communities) they wish to represent. A point made very clear by Mr Foster, during the public forum presentation at the recent Golden Bay Community Board meeting (of 10 May 2016), that I attended. And again, I extend my offer to talk about my experiences on council with any prospective candidates.
Interestingly, given the storm brewing in Nelson (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/73755660/councillor-under-fire-for-interference-into-southern-link-investigation), Cr Norris stated that “I have been involved with New Zealand Transport Agency, Nelson City Council and other affected parties looking at the business case for the southern link” (my emphasis).
In contrast, Cr Davy had suggested that he was invited to take part because of his knowledge of Nelson’s transport network, and not as a representative of Nelson City Council (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/74796878/Councillors-clash-over-Southern-Link-investigation, http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/75210791/councillor-eric-davy-ousted-from-regional-transport-committee).
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/2015/2015-12-17.
The engineering services meeting was held on 5 November 2015. Apologies were received from Cr Canton, Higgins, and Edgar (with the mayor arriving late). All other councillors were present.
The agenda included: (1) chair’s report, (2) Wakefield development water development contribution, and (3) engineering activity report. A late in-committee (confidential) report was also received in relation to shared landfill services (York valley). There were two items in public forum.
Given the agenda was somewhat brief, I decided to ask a number of questions throughout the meeting. Much to the frustration of the chair (Cr Norris).
Graeme Thomas, speaking on behalf of Richard Martin (property developer), spoke about his clients concerns with the Ben Nevis development in Wakefield. He raised a number of concerns that I will discuss below. He asked that the land be excluded from the contributions, or the development contribution be deferred until connection.
Martin Barlow spoke on behalf of the Mapua Boat Club. He raised concerns about the restricted access to the Mapua boat ramp. He thought the mayor had supported a range of solutions the club had offered. Yet none appear to have been implemented? Without access, they would be the only boat club in NZ without a boat ramp. They acknowledged the tension with health and safety issues (regarding public walking in the area vs cars and boats), but wanted a solution for the summer period.
The brief report (a page of text) mentioned the pending draft speed bylaw review and the relationship with the NZTA’s speed management guide. Staff advised that the NZTA guide would have little impact on the review.
The report also mentioned joint land development manual initiative between Nelson and Tasman councils. This is an important initiative for ensuring the two councils better align. I asked the chair if a little more detail could be provided around the joint land development manual given its importance – perhaps including an update on progress, topics covered, or tension points. The chair refused, becoming very upset with my request. As I expected he would. However, I think its important council are kept abreast of developments rather than wait for a staff report at the end of the process. Its about being kept informed, so we can keep our residents informed.
Finally, my family want to share their sincere condolences with the family and friends of Paul Bennett (skipper), Jared Reese (Timaru), and Terry Donald Booth (Ruby Bay), who lost their lives at sea off the Canterbury coast on the FV Jubilee. Coming from a fishing family we are very aware of the risks of this type of work (as were they). These were three very experienced fishermen who were well known in their community. They will be missed.
Wakefield development water development contribution
This issue was discussed in public forum. Essentially, it concerned the charging of a water development contributions on a property development (known as Ben Nevis) comprising 100 lots located in the Wakefield area. The developer has been responsible for other property developments bordering this development.
The developer is installing “dry” pipes (for a future water reticulation system) as the development progresses. An extension of the reticulated water supply is planned to service this land in 2021-24 (according to the 2015 Long Term Plan (LTP). This was illustrated in one of the maps enclosed in the LTP set of documents. Until the site is reticulated, the developer is required to provide for on-site water collection, storage and treatment (as a condition of the developments approval). Generally, payment of development contributions is due when the development plans are approved. The contributions are a partial contribution to the cost of planned water infrastructure.
The developer raised two main issues (notification failure and a double up of water costs) to support his request for the development contribution to be deferred until connection.
The applicant argued that the council failed to notify the developer of any development contribution liability. He was unable to find any public notification or any information in the LTP. He also noted that an earlier adjacent development had not been subject to any contributions. Given his pre-existing relationship with council in relation to an earlier adjacent development, he thought he should have been advised of a change.
In response staff, acknowledged and apologised for failing to inform the developer of the plan change that created a new liability for development contributions. The issue would be addressed so that it would not happen again. However, the plan change (and corresponding development contribution) had been notified through the LTP process and therefore it was legally enforceable.
In response to questions raised during public forum, I asked staff to inform the developer of the location of the relevant plan changes in the LTP. Which staff confirmed they would do.
Cost double up
The applicant argued that the imposition of development contributions, as well as requiring the developer to provide an on-site water supply, placed a heavy financial burden on the developer, making it uneconomic to continue to lay dry pipes. This would mean that the council would have to dig up the road at a future date and lay pipes for the future water reticulation system. Again a way forward was to defer the imposition of development levies until the planned reticulation system was connected sometime in 2021-24.
This would mean that liability for the development contribution would lay with the property owner at the time of connection. However, owners could still opt not to connect. If an owner choose not to connect they would still be liable for the daily water charges (ie pipe maintenance costs), but not the water charges (as they would not be receiving water).
Council unanimously agreed that the development contribution would be imposed on connection. In my opinion, deferring the imposition of development contributions was the most pragmatic solution. This enabled the development to continue and for council to receive development contributions for infrastructure.
Engineering activity report
The manager’s report contained the following highlights:
- Financials: I asked two questions. First, if the over spend in the transportation budget (ie operating expenses) was a timing issue (or not). Staff confirmed it was a timing issue. Second, if the financials could provide a similar level of analysis contained in the environment and planing (E&P) reports. The E&P reports provided detailed analysis of staff and contractor costs. Whereas, engineering did not. The question was put to other councillors. Unfortunately, I received no support from other councillors for more detailed analysis.
- Health and safety: MWH and TDC managers are developing a safety training workshop for constructions site visits. Cr Mirfin questioned (rather rhetorically) whether this was at all necessary and wondered whether it bordered on over-kill. Especially as there had been no incidents to date in relation to on-site visits? Unfortunately the HSE Act imposes a number of obligations on council. Failure to show we have provided sufficient H&S training could expose council to potential liability should an incident occur. Effectively, training is a form of insurance against potential liability.
- Parking strategy: A consultant (traffic design group) has been contracted to conduct dta collection and aid in development of a parking strategy. A final draft report has been presented to staff and a workshop for councillors is planned for early 2016. Public consultation is expected around March 2016. I will be watching this with interest. In my opinion, we need to be ensuring new commercial developments are providing more car parks (including under or within the development itself), as well as utilising areas on the fringes of the CBD, rather than widening roads for parking (at cot to the ratepayers). For example, Club Waimea have a large carpark that is under utilised throughout the day. Enabling them to promote a fee based carpark service would take the pressure off parking in other parts of Richmond. A similar arrangement could be developed as an income stream for A&P Society land. These areas could also be supported by a connecting bus service.
- Digital systems (Confirm and Tardis): The “confirm” (asset) database has been altered to make it easier to operate (including a shift from printed reports to PDF reports). The “tracking and reporting of development information system” (TARDIS) is a web based multi-purpose relational database. It was developed in-house and is used for tracking subdivision and planning documents and was introduced to the resource consents team as a collaborative development. I asked that staff liaise with Nelson council when these opportunities arise in order to share and leverage technology. We should be aiming to align the same systems and processes in both councils to maximise cost savings and efficiency gains. There is no point reinventing the wheel.
- New Richmond South developments: A request to relocate a storm water designation in Richmond South was received. I asked what this meant. Staff advised the request sought to divert storm water further south (along the bottom of the hill crest, parrallel to Harts Road). Land either side of Patons Road and Bateup Road has had its deferrment lifted, allowing development of 250 sections over the next couple of years. At the same time Bateup Road is being investigated for road improvements (for increased traffic), including under-grounding stormwater and road widening. I suggested to staff that any road improvements should give serious consideration to secondary flow paths (similar to the proposed inversion of Queen Street) as the Paton\Bateup Road was one of the 5 flooding hotspots in the 2011 and 2013 floods.
- Fairise Drive development: Around 20 lots are nearing completion at the end of Fairise Drive. A new pedestrian connection will be provided from Hill Street into the new cul-de-sac. Lots adjoining Hill Street will direct storm water into Harts creek. Storm water from other lots in this development are to be piped via a detention pond. I asked staff (after the meeting) to provide me a detailed briefing so that I could keep downstream residents informed of planned developments.
- Hill Street and Harts Road development: A proposed 33 lot development at the corner of these roads has been lodged with council for consideration.
- Mapua water network: Major breaks on the Mapua water network have recently occurred. Staff are investigating and will be making a recommendation on the likely timing of an upgrade. Most likely bringing forward the planned upgrade in the LTP.
- Waste: Recycling volumes continue to grow (23% up on the July to September period last year). This means less pressure on landfill. Landfill operations have focused on excavating cover material from on-site, and developing the next cell for refuse. Landfill volumes (for July to September) were 2% above budget.
- LED lights: A total of 512 of 2400 lights (21%) have been converted to date.
- School speed zones: 40km\hr advisory speed signs will be installed at 29 (of 36) schools. Priority will be given to 11 schools (Ranzau, Hope, Dovedale, Motueka Rudolf Steiner, Ngatimoti, Lower Moutere, Motupipi, Centrl Takaka, Brooklyn, Mapua, and Mahana) who either have no crossroads, are near high speed areas, and have no parking to drop children off. The other 7 schools are either on state highways (NZTA responsibility) or urban environments (low speed areas) where additional signage might be considered a hindrance to visibility. NZTA will be investigating use of 40km\hr signs for schools on state highways.
- Rivers: Increased fly tipping (rubbish dumping) has been observed near the Waimea. River tracks between Appleby bridge and lower Queen Street may have to be closed (after the white bait season ends) to mitigate the increase.
I also asked for an update on the interim lower Moutere speed signage (discussed at the last meeting in relation to proposed footpaths). Staff advised that the speed signage had experienced a few glitches in providing data on road usage. It was hoped this would be available for the next meeting.
I also passed on an observation from a resident that the traffic lights in gladstone road were not sympathetic to motorcycles – and that this meant sometimes cycles had to run a red light to get across the road.
Unfortunately, the chair (Cr Norris) became quite upset with me asking so many questions during consideration of this report. He suggested that rather than ask questions in public, I should direct them to staff after the meeting. I disagreed and was not going to be intimidated by his bullying tactics. In my opinion, it was important questions were asked in public, so they could be minuted. Furthermore, preventing questions being asked, undermined the need for the meeting in the first place. I certainly do not consider my presence at council meetings to be a rubber stamping (or attendance) exercise.
Agenda and minutes
The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/.
The full council meeting was held on 10 September 2015. All councillors were in attendance.
The agenda included: (1) treasury policy change, (2) capital carry-overs, navigation safety by-law, (3) public transport regional plan, (4) speed limits review, (5) unmanned aircraft policy, (6) Nelson regional sewerage business unit, (7) economic development funding agreement, (8) mayor’s report, (9) Waimea community dam, and (10) CEOs report.
Two additional late items were also considered in confidence: (1) audit subcommittee independent member appointment, and (2) Waimea water augmentation project. I’m unable to talk to these items at present, as they were discussed in committee and have yet to have their confidential status lifted.
Finally, two items were raised in public forum – with one raising a very interesting legal issue.
Michael Croxford raised (and tabled) an interesting question regarding the treatment of development contribution levies by the council. By way of background, a developer (being the “consent holder” at the time the development is approved) will normally pay the council a development contribution. This financial contribution helps fund downstream infrastructural impacts from the development or proposed infrastructure that the development would benefit from.
In some instances council might decide not to proceed with implementing proposed infrastructural improvements. In those instances, council refunds the financial contribution to the consent holder (the original payor). In this instance, the Motueka coastal pipeline was removed from the long term plan requiring council to refund the development contribution. In some instances the original developer (the “consent holder” at the time) is no longer operating or has been liquidated. If it is a company it is normally removed from the companies register. However, removal from the companies office does not prevent a company re-registering.
Michael argued that the refund of development contributions, should go to the holder of the consent at the time it is deemed no longer required. Accordingly, where the developer no longer exists, the refund should go to the land owner as the subsequent holder of the consent. Essentially, his argument turned on whether the term “consent holder”, could import a wider meaning from examining other provisions of the Local Government Act (LGA) or Resource Management Act (RMA).
This matter was subsequently discussed during the Mayor’s report. The outcome of that discussion was that the council felt it had discharged its duty to determine (to the best of its ability) the legal position. That advice suggested that the “consent holder” was the payor (the original developer) and did not include the subsequent owner of the developed land. As Michael had not received a copy of the council’s legal opinion, it was felt that he should be provided a copy, so that he (and other residents) could decide whether they wanted to challenge the council’s legal advice.
Kit Maling spoke to the Waimea community dam update report (discussed below) and tabled a document outlining a resolution from the Waimea East Irrigation Company.
Waimea community dam
This item was a second (regular) project update for councillors. At this stage the project has been in slow mode (to avoid unnecessary expenditure) as discussions with WCDL progressed. The confidential briefing to councillors, updated much of what was stated in this part of the report. Once discussions with WCDL have been completed, planned work streams should move forward a little faster. The proposed work streams were outlined in my earlier post (see www.greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/full-council-meeting-30-july/).
Work that can be expected to re-gather momentum once discussions with WCDL have concluded are:
- formation of a biodiversity technical advisory group (BTAG) to prepare a biodiversity management plan (a resource consent condition).
- construction procurement process planning. It is being suggested that a two stage process (that comprises construction and design planning, followed by price negotiation and construction).
- business structure planning. WCDL has been considering a variety of options (prepared by Northington partners). Staff will present a report to full council in October that considers the various issues.
- preparation and review of pre-purchase agreements with landowners. These are agreements that hold open the ability to purchase the relevant land (at agreed prices), without actually entering into land sales. Effectively, the council avoids having to purchase land until there is agreement to proceed with a dam.
By way of background, WCDL acknowledged council’s recent offer to share the resource consent as joint resource consent holders (a 50:50 ownership arrangement). This is a change from councils original arrangement, where WCDL were contracted to secure the resource consent on behalf of the council and handing over the resource consent by a specified date or the formation of a CCO (which ever was earlier). WCDL has attached several conditions to this offer which council representatives have since brought back to council. Hence the confidential session.
I would hope that once all discussions with WCDL are completed, that relevant reports withheld under confidentiality are made public. I will certainly be advocating for this to happen.
So where to from here?
In my opinion, the process is at a critical fulcrum (or tipping point). I believe council needs to re-evaluate its relationship with WCDL. It has become very confusing and the lines between council and WCDL are very blurred. This has resulted in a great deal of uncertainty (and confusion) about who should be doing what, and who should be funding what.
At present council is both (sole) funder and service provider. Council is carrying all the risk (hence the growing concerns of council about the escalating write-off cost). Those roles need to be formally separated. Council should no longer be the sole funder and certainly not the main funder of a water solution that is being developed for the primary benefit of irrigators (who will receive over 2/3rds of the augmented water supply).
In my opinion, (as I have said repeatedly on this blog), WCDL needs to capitalise (as an investment holding entity for interested irrigators), so that it can take over this project as majority shareholder and funder of the dam. Like all investment vehicles, it needs start up capital to come from those investors who truly believe in this venture.
Once initially capitalised, WCDL can invest in developing a prospectus to secure more funding from potential investors to eventually invest into a Dam holding entity. The dam holding entity can then fund the services (and work streams) it needs to bring about the construction of a dam. Council can then evaluate whether it wants to invest in the venture or not. And can also compete against others, to provide project management services and technical expertise.
The parallel issue of water allocation and restrictions
Unfortunately, one of the most frustrating elements of the dam debate for me, is the confusion surrounding the water management (allocation and restriction) rules – which are set to change. Hardly anyone I speak to understands how these rules operate or how they impact on the way water is currently managed.
In my opinion council has done a very poor job in communicating the changing landscape of water management. This should have been communicated by council well before it began its conversation about water augmentation. Because this is “the” reason why council is having a debate about water augmentation solutions. Ironically, council were the ones who brought about these change in the rules, by way of a plan change a number of years ago.
However, the good news is that council has got its act together and is beginning to have this conversation. As part of the consultation process for proposed changes to the district plan rules, council will be hosting 2 open days for residents to meet and discuss the proposed plan changes. These are:
- Wednesday, 7 October 2015 at Richmond Council Chambers (focusing on urban water supply), and
- Thursday, 8 October 2015 at Seifried’s Estate, Redwood Rd (focusing on rural water permit holders).
Changes to water management rules
There are three changes to the water management rules.
First, water allocation is about to change. Basically, the amount of water people receive is likely to reduce. For example, people might have received a water allocation right of 10 litres, but only actually consumed 5 litres. This resulted in an over allocation of water. To correct this over-allocation, council will be reviewing peoples actual water usage. The review will re-calibrate water allocations so that they equal actual usage.
This re-calibration will also have an immediate affect on the impact of water restrictions on some water right holders. This is because water restrictions step down from the allocation right volume. If the allocation right volume was higher than real water consumption volume, the restrictions had no impact on water right holders. However, if the allocation right volume is the same as consumption, then restrictions will immediately affect the amount of water available for the water right holder.
For urban water users the allocation right volume is virtually identical to consumption. Effectively council has not purchased more water than it needs. Whereas, some rural water consumers have. This means any re-calibration of urban water will not result in any change.
The second change is the threshold for imposing water restrictions. The thresholds have changed (by way of an earlier plan change) so that they bite earlier (ie, at lower thresholds). These changes are even more severe for water users who will have their water allocation levels reduced to historical consumption levels (or use).
The third change (currently being consulted on) is the introduction of a dual water restriction system – one for those who are allocated water and are funding an increase in water supply (a dam funder), and one for those who are not. Those who choose not to fund an increase in water supply, will operate under the above rules (ie, the revised allocations that are equivalent to historical use, and lowered thresholds for water restrictions).
Those that fund a water supply increase, will effectively have a system that imposes water restrictions that take into consideration the additional water being added to the natural water supply. Effectively, using a different water restriction threshold, so that they can extract the water they have added to the river, before restrictions apply.
If council purchases water from the dam for urban users (estimated investment of $9 million) then they are less likely to see water restrictions. It should be noted that council has voted to provide $25 million towards the dam. With $13 million (of that $25 million) considered to be the environmental benefit contribution that will be rated across the whole district, against water club members (those people connected to a council provided water supply).
As I have said in earlier posts, I consider that the $13 million should be apportioned between the extractors (urban consumers and irrigators), rather than imposed across the district. Adopting an extractor pays approach would have resulted in council only contributing roughly $14 million towards water augmentation, rather than the $25 million that council has undertaken to provide in the LTP (see www.greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/long-term-plan-meeting-full-council-28-may/). In my opinion, the community should continue to put pressure on the councils (majority) decision to fund $25 million of the dam cost.
The council unanimously agreed to release for public consultation the draft consolidated bylaws on road speed limits for the district (see the “attachments” document at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2015/2015-09-10).
A number of changes to road speed limits across the district are proposed. For example, Ranzau Road will have its speed limits reduced. Consultation is expected to begin from 14 September 2015 to 16 October 2015.
My advice for people wanting to a submission is to read the attachments document. This is because the attachment document highlights the proposed changes (via track changes), so that you can quickly identify any proposed changes. While the public consultation document will highlight if a speed has gone up or down, it won’t indicate the speed it has changed from.
The attachment document also includes very detailed assessments and reasons for why speed limits were proposed for changed (or not). Those assessments include a recommended speed (based on model), additional staff assessments (that consider aspects not included in the speed modeling), and the working party recommendations (being Crs Norris, Dowler, Higgins, Bryant, and Sangster).
In relation to school zones, the draft bylaw proposes a managed roll out of advisory signs. The only exception is for Brightwater, where the Brightwater school zone will have the benefit of a reduced speed limit. This was achieved by the mayor proposing a separate resolution that proposed a speed limit reduction for the main road in Brightwater. A number of councillors were upset with this move, as it appeared to give special treatment to one particular street (and school).
While, I could agree with those councillors, that this treatment was not fair, I nonetheless supported the separate resolution, as at least one school would benefit from the proposed speed reduction. However, I agree with those councillors who opposed the mayor’s maneuvering, that all other schools zones should have had similar treatment. No doubt those schools will be making a submission to council highlighting the difference in treatment and inviting council to lower speed limits on their roads.
Council’s current treasury policy requires any interest rate swap arrangements that are longer than 10 years to be approved by full council (which meets every 6 weeks). The proposed change sought to extend the delegated authority from 10 years to 12 years, to enable staff to take advantage of the swap market (which is very fluid at present), without having to wait 6 weeks for approval. Both the full council and corporate services meeting unanimously supported the proposed change.
This item was brought to full council from the corporate services meeting (held on 3 September) as the corporate services committee did not have authority to amend the treasury policy. This item was explained in detail at para 9.4 of the corporate services agenda (see www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/corporate-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CorporateServicesCommittee/2015/2015-09-03) and discussed in an earlier post (see www.greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/corporate-services-committee-3-september/).
Due to the nature of capital works, some projects planned to be undertaken in earlier financial years are either not started, or are not completed in the financial year they were planned. Often delays are due to weather or the cascading effect of other projects being delayed. This means funds that were allocated in an earlier financial year have to be brought forward into this financial year to enable the work to be completed or started.
Council unanimously supported the carry forward of $14.853 million from the 2014-15 year into the 2015-16 year. This does not have a financial impact in the 2015-16 year, as the funds for these projects has already been raised in the earlier years that these projects were planned to be completed. In the previous financial year, council carried forward around $20 million of capital projects. The reduction in carry forwards this year would suggest that council has made some progress in catching up on the delivery of these delayed projects.
A list of the projects being carried forward is listed in the agenda at page 15 to 23.
Council unanimously adopted the proposed “Navigation Safety Bylaw 2015” which comes into effect on 14 September 2015. The new 2015 bylaw replaces the old 2006 bylaw. All bylaws are located on the council website at www.tasman.govt.nz/policy/policies/bylaws/.
The new 2015 bylaw is the result of a review of the old 2006 bylaw that began in December 2013 and involved public consultation during early 2014. During that consultation period council received over 212 submissions.
Since the consultation period the government has further simplified the law. This has meant that the new 2015 bylaw does not have to reproduce all the rules contained in the parent Act. Therefore, anyone referring to the Navigation Safety Bylaw 2015 should also consult the parent Act (the Maritime Transport Act 1994, see www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1994/0104/latest/whole.html), associated regulations, and rules.
The regional public transport plan for 2015-18 was received and adopted by council.
I took the opportunity to reinforce the communities concerns that the regional plan is not used to drive (forgive the pun) further road widening projects (Wensley Road comes to mind). In my opinion, any expansion of the public transport network needs to utilise existing infrastructure not place additional financial costs on the community.
For example, a loop around Richmond that uses Hill Street, Hart’s Road, and Bateup Road (which is already earmarked for widening due to the proposed supermarket development) would be more appropriate roads to use as they have the capacity to take buses.
This topic was discussed in an earlier meeting (see www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/corporate-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CorporateServicesCommittee/2015/2015-09-03).
Full council received and approved the interim policy on unmanned aircraft (also referred to as drones, model aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft systems, or UAVs). The policy should be read in conjunction with the civil aviation authority (CAA) rules (which came into force on 1 August 2015) and are located at www.caa.govt.nz/rpas/.
The council policy document is is located at www.tasman.govt.nz/policy/policies/flying-drones-and-other-unmanned-aircraft-over-council-land/. Essentially, the policy prohibits use of unmanned aircraft within 4 km of identified aerodromes (controlled airspace), unless permission is granted by the council.
In contrast, council has provided general consent to use unmanned aircraft on all other council land, unless prohibited. Prohibited land areas include: council offices, libraries, forestry plantations, Mapua commercial precinct and wharf area, various public and memorial gardens (such as, Washbourn, Pethybridge, etc), cemeteries, Motueka sandspit, leased land to other parties (such as, bowling greens, tennis courts, etc). If on doubt contact the council.
This policy does not cover privately owned land. However, the CAA requires unmanned aircraft operators to obtain permission from a private landowner or occupier before flying over private land.
Nelson regional sewerage business unit
Council agreed to renew the Nelson regional sewerage business unit (NSRBU) memorandum of understanding and reappoint the joint committee that administers the NSRBU.
This item came before full council because both councils failed to enter into a renewed memorandum of understanding before August 2015, resulting in the deemed discharging of NRSBU joint committee. The council’s resolutions effectively corrected this administrative oversight.
Economic development funding
Council received and approved the EDA funding agreement with Nelson council. The agreement looks to fund destination tourism and economic development initiatives for the Tasman region at a total cost of $400,000 per annum. These funds come from general rates. Nelson council will use the EDA and NTT (or other appropriate vehicle) to provide these services (and outcomes).
I note that the Nelson council has begun a review of both organisations and is not proposing to merge both entities (see www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/71888656/Nelson-economic-development-and-tourism-merger-could-save-100-000-a-year). I certainly support a merger as I have stated in earlier posts (see my discussion about tourism at www.greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/full-council-meeting-5-december/).
The council also established a liason group (comprising the mayor, Cr King, Bryant and Edgar) to improve accountability arrangements for service delivery for the Tasman district. In my opinion, this is an important element of the new process. Unfortunately the council in the past has not provided clear targets or outcomes for the Tasman district and therefore has struggled to receive anything meaningful in terms of measuring its return on investment.
While attempts had been made to target the cost of destination tourism to the commercial community (being those who directly benefit), rather than general ratepayers, the tools available to council were rather blunt (ie rating commercial land), and in the end the council opted in the interim to continue to use the general rating system.
Highlights of the CEO’s report include:
- strategy and planning. Council’s LTP consultative document was judged to one of the top 8 documents in the country. Council staff are reviewing the winning entry (and the other 6 documents) to make improvements for future consultation documents. Planning for the next financial year (including how we will consult with the public) has begun. A workshop was held on 3 September that discussed several issues including enabling the finance team to focus on forecasting (for the future), rather than just reporting on the past.
- annual report. The annual audit process went more smoothly this year, with the annual report expected to be adopted at the next full council meeting on 24 September 2015. Appointment of an independent member to the audit subcommittee was addressed in a confidential session with the appointment being made by majority vote. The person appointed was Graham Naylor.
- rules reduction taskforce. The government task force concluded that there were few loopy laws with many grievances stemming from service delivery and process problems. My experience has been that the interpretation of legislative rules by central government agencies is also an area of concern, especially in relation to health and safety standards (and there over zealous application).
- people. Council are currently seeking 3 staff replacements. Collective employment agreement bargaining concluded with the union in August. This resulted in a wage increase of 1.2% for most staff – which was “just” within budget. A high level review of councils existing health and safety systems and processes has begun, with a view to implementing an improvement plan. Under the new Health and Safety Act councillors and officers have a duty of due diligence (ie taking reasonable steps to ensure compliance), but cannot be prosecuted for non-compliance.
Agenda and minutes
The agenda, attachments, and minutes are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2015/2015-09-10.
The engineering services committee meeting was held on 15 May 2014.
The agenda included the following topics: (1) sewerage operation and management, (2) driver feedback signs, (3) bridge replacement, and (4) the engineering manager’s report. A confidential session was held to consider a solid waste services proposal.
Unfortunately the report from the Nelson Regional Sewerage Business Unit (NRSBU) was not tabled and instead deferred to the next meeting due to NRSBU staff not being able to present the report to council. Nevertheless the agenda (pp 5 to 30) does contain some useful information on TDC’s sewerage operation that the people from the NRSBU were going to talk too. I look forward to NRSBU’s future presentation.
Driver feedback signs
Speed issues have been a major concern for schools and residents in the region. As part of councils efforts to address the issue, council has decided to purchase three “driver feedback signs” (that are solar powered) at a total cost of $40,000. These are signs that inform the driver of their approaching speed. Studies conducted both in the UK and USA have found radar speed signs to effectively slow traffic down (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_speed_sign). Six locations have been identified.
A number of trucking businesses are wanting to use the larger High Productivity Motor Vehicle (HPMV) capable trucks and trailers. These new trucks are longer and have more carrying capacity (roughly 20% more) than other trucks. Theoretically, their use should see a reduction in the number of truck trips on our roads and possibly improved safety. Their impact on the roads is also no greater than existing trucks due to their axel configuration. This results in the load weight of the truck being evenly distributed, so that there is no greater impact on road wear and tear than from other trucks. However, narrow bridges pose a problem to cross. Tasman has a number of narrow bridges.
After consultation with the industry, staff identified that the most efficient route for HPMV’s to the rest of the south island was along the Motueka Valley Highway which would involve only one narrow bridge replacement. A map of the route in the agenda (p 47). The estimated cost of the bridge work was $700,000 and would only proceed if it received a New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) subsidy of 59%. An effective cost to ratepayers of $287,000. The project was also expected to be completed within the existing approved 2013-14 bridge renewal budget. On this basis, council approved the expenditure.
The engineering manager’s report provided an update of the engineering departments activities, reorganisation, and programme delivery schedule.
Of particular interest for me was the reported savings from the departments reorganisation, although the manager stressed that this could deviate in future quarters. The 2013 third quarter (Q3) showed a total saving of $1,384,000 against plan, compared to the forecast saving of $710,000 for the same period. A positive variance of $674,000. This was a good result but whether this trend continues as the departments activities are reduced (as council strive to make savings from unnecessary capital expenditure) will be interesting to monitor.
Subsidised road renewals appear to be coming in under forecasted budgets of just over $6 million. A possible saving of $100,000-200,000. Although this saving is likely to be taken up by a shortfall of $100,000 in river maintenance activities. River work in the Buller catchment is underway with current costs appearing to be tracking below planned expenditure. Whether this is a timing issue or a trend will be interesting to watch.
Seawater inundation at the Motueka waste water plant has brought forward the decommissioning of one of the wetland ponds. The easter storm raised the risk of waste water overflows in Golden Bay. However, these were avoided due to the efforts of the contractor who tankard the effluent from site to site.
Stormwater networks held up well in March and April. Regular pre-storm inspections and the removal of debris are now being undertaken prior to forecasted heavy rain events. Areas of high risk continue to have sandbags stationed nearby.
The councils resource consent for landfill operations expires in September 2015 and work has begun to ensure consents are in place going forward.
The construction of reservoir and supply pipelines above Champion Road to increase supply for new Richmond east subdivisions are over budget due to road works and land purchases. The upgrade to Champion Road storm water system (to mitigate flooding to a Q100 event) is behind schedule due to resource consenting issues. Other projects behind schedule include: (1) the regions growth model report (now scheduled for June), (2) the regions parking management strategy report (now after May), and (3) the hydraulic modelling of Richmond. Given the size and number of other projects the engineering department is undertaking, some lag might be expected. I certainly do not have any concerns at this point in time.
Reader’s interested in the progress of other engineering projects should refer to the agenda (pp 62 to 70).
Agenda and minutes
The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2014/2014-05-15.