Tagged: Takaka

Full council meeting (3 December)

The full council meeting was held on 3 December 2015. Apologies were received from Cr Mirfin and Cr Inglis (with Cr Bouillir arriving late from her drive over the Takaka hill). All other councillors were present.

The agenda included: (1) September quarterly financial update, (2) Waimea community dam project update, (3) velodrome easement, (5) chief executive’s activity report, (6) mayor’s report, (6) action items, (7) machinery resolutions. Council also considered a confidential item (in-committee) in relation to the public release of the 10 September 2015 in-committee report.

Public forum had two speakers. My general observation for this meeting was that council moved rapidly through the agenda with very little debate. Perhaps a reflection that this was another meeting of information updates and simple machinery decisions.

Public forum

Maxwell Clarke complimented council on its quarterly financial report which he said was clear and precise. He also noted an improvement in communication from the engineering department over storm water work. However, Maxwell raised concerns over the limited time to speak (currently 3 minutes). He asked council to be more flexible. There was no reason why it could not be extended to 5 minutes. After all, Christchurch council provided 5 minutes. He also asked that council begin considering Plan B initiatives for water augmentation, given it was becoming very apparent that there was insufficient support for the Dam. He noted that 2700 ha (which was WCDL’s target) was 70% of all irrigators. He would be surprised if this was met at an $83 million funding level.

Martyn Barlow spoke about the concerns of the Mapua Boat Club and the restricted access to the boat ramp. He noted that TDC had now banned vehicles accessing the boat ramp between the hours of 10am and 7pm, due to “health and safety concerns”. This severely limits use for boat users who are dependent on the tide. Martyn noted that the commercialisation of the wharf precinct was done for businesses, tourists and visitors to Mapua – but not for the local community.

Martyn also stressed that boat use was on the increase and a boat ramp in the Mapua area was a necessity. One only had to see what was happening in Nelson. He noted that building the new Shed 4 had also compounded the parking and traffic management issues. In a circulated copy of his speech he stated that “… TDC has failed to meet their own objectives in the case of the local Mapua community’s use of coastal assets and we want to know why – and we expect our elected councillor’s to put it right! In the words of the late Alan Martin it’s the putting right that counts!”. I agree.

Unfortunately, council’s commercial aspirations in attempting to cover the entire site with the Shed 4 building (to maximise revenues), has meant access to the boat ramp is severely limited. In my opinion, a container development would have been less intrusive and met the aspirations of the council, businesses, and the community. The lack of vision and foresight by those councillors who supported this development has been exposed.

In my opinion, council may have to explore placing boat ramp access along the southern boundary of the reserve and allow boat users to share the carpark (which might have to be extended). If that can come in at around $80,000 then it would seem the most logical solution.

Waimea community dam project update

This was the fourth update report on the Waimea Community Dam Project. The report covers the period following the Council’s decision to transfer a joint interest in the resource consents for the dam to Waimea Community Dam Limited (WCDL) company.

Key points included:

  • Resource consents. The resource consents are now jointly held by council and WCDL. The Deed terms were satisfied by agreement.
  • Project Steering Group (PSG). The CEO has since withdrawn from direct involvement with the PSG in order to maintain independence and safeguard objectivity when providing advice to council. This leaves the PSG membership with: the Mayor, Cr King, Cr Edgar, and Cr Higgins.
  • Structure. WCDL undertook to begin seeking preliminary expressions of interest based on its proposed corporate structure and P50 pricing model. WCDL were advised that Council did not agree with WCDL’s proposed structure or pricing model. WCDL were advised that any consultation using the WCDL proposal was a risky assumption.
  • Procurement. An approach to procurement had been agreed. It was intended to issue a request for interest (ROI) in December. That time line has since slipped given the uncertainty on funding.
  • Land. Draft agreements were sent to the private land owners at the end of October 2015. All parties had confirmed receipt by 6 November 2015. Department of Conservation (DOC)/Crown acquisitions are to track alongside the private landowner agreements. The LINZ land comprises part of the dam footprint. The proposal is to resume the paper road under the dam and preferentially allocate it to Council under the Land Act. A meeting was held with Frank Hippolite (Ngati Koata) to discuss the purchase (or other treatment) of Ngati Koata land.
  • Plan change. A Plan change (two tier water allocation system) was notified on 19 September 2015, receiving 32 submissions.
  • Project costs. Total direct project costs (capital and operational costs) for 2014-15 year (up to 30 June 2015) was $1.582 million ($1.483 million plus $99,000). An additional $250,000 was spent up to October 2015, bringing the total direct project cost (as at October 2015) to $1.832 million (see page 31 of the agenda for detailed costings).

Much of the discussion focused on procurement advice which was expected in 2016. This advice was preliminary in nature and low cost. The CEO stressed the need to ensure funding streams have been secured before any tenders started. He also stressed that any consultation would need to respond to issues raised by communities. I agree. I also asked that “write down” costs (which is the cost to council if it walked away from the project) are highlighted in any future update reports.

Project Expenditure

2014-15

YTD October 2015

Direct operational costs

$99,000

$1,000

Project capital costs

$1,483,000

$249,000

Indirect operational costs

$218,000

$16,000

Total

$1,800,000

$266,000

$2,066,000

Project Funding sources
Existing operational

$218,000

$16,000

Waimea levy

$71,000

Targeted rates

$20,000

WWAC opening balance

$470,000

Loan funded balance

$1,021,000

$250,000

Total

$1,800,000

$266,000

$2,066,000

September quarterly financial update

Council agreed to quarterly reporting to full council as part of a workshop held on 3 September 2015. The September 2015 quarterly financial report provides a snapshot of the financial highlights of the first quarter.

Year end Forecast

Annual budget

Variance

Accounting Surplus

-$10,187,000

-$6,811,000

$3,376,000,000

Favourable
Operating Surplus

$2,352,000

$5,303,000

$2,950,000,000

Favourable
Total Net Debt

$158,982,000

$173,267,000

$14,286,000

Favourable
Expenditure

$99,422,000

$101,634,000

-$2,212,000

Favourable
Income

$108,467,000

$107,303,000

$1,164,000

Favourable
Capital Expenditure

$50,107,000

$50,400,000

-$292,000

Favourable

Overall the financial position of Council remains extremely strong and in line with year end budget expectations. The notable exception being the debtors balance.

Total net debt

The forecast year end net debt position for 2015-16 is now $159 million ($14 million lower than forecast in the LTP).

Opening Net Debt 2015 July $140,318 million
Net Debt 2015 September $142,513 million
Forecast Net Debt 2016 June $158,982 million
Net Debt 2016 June (per LTP) $173,267 million

20151203-FC-p15

Income

Income is above budget by $734,000 with a forecast excess of $1.164 million at the end of the 2015-16 financial year.

Expenditure

Expenditure is below budget by $2.089 million with a forecast underspend of $2.126m at the end of the 2015-16 financial year.

Debtors balance

The total debt ledger is up $1,843,076, and 3-month overdue ledger up $1,221,463, from September 2014.

20151203-FC-p19

Chief executive’s activity report

Highlights from the CEO’s report include:

  • Finances. For the period ended October 2015 the Council had a surplus of $3.83 million above the budget. External debt is $144 million compared to a budget of $168 million. Capital expenditure is $18.47 million lower then budget on a year-to-date basis (subject to capital carryovers of $15.59 million).
  • Health and Safety. Council have been invited to participate in a Safety Star Rating Scheme (SSRS), a new WorkSafe pilot scheme which is expected to replace the current ACC Workplace Safety Management Practices scheme (WSMP).
  • Economic Development. The Economic Development Services Review Group met on 9 November 2015. The areas of focus for the new entity were agreed. And are aligned with council’s outcomes as prescribed in the funding agreement with Nelson council.
  • Landfill. The basis for asset valuations of a joint landfill proposal with Nelson council has been agreed. In my opinion, this is an important step towards more shared services between both councils, and will be a win-win for ratepayers.
  • Pre-election report. This is required to be produced prior to 1 July in the year that local elections are held. The purpose of a pre-election report is to provide information to promote public discussion about the issues facing the local authority. The financial information and the text will be prepared in April and May with the final version ready for sign off in mid- June.

Velodrome easement

Council resolved to grant an easement to Network Tasman to convey electricity to the new velodrome on Saxton field. The new power supply is expected to be substantially less intrusive than the old supply. The new power supply requires only one power pole and associated stays in a location where there is already an existing power pole. The rest of the supply is by way of underground cabling.

Mayors report

During the mayor’s report I asked mayor about what progress had been made over a request by residents for TDC to do a road swap with DoC on the Takaka Hill. According to reports, Doc had threatened to stop the public and property owners from using a reserve road on the top of Takaka Hill which was used to access private properties. The mayor advised that he would be facilitating a solution between residents, DoC, and TDC. I will be watching this space with interest.

I also advised councillors that I spoke on behalf of the council at the Inaugral Trans-Tasman Golf-Croquet Test series, which New Zealand had won. I have reported my speech in an earlier post.

Machinery resolutions

These resolutions confirms documents signed under delegated authority and council seal. They included: a partial surrender of easement and alteration of easement in gross; and a forest management agreement with PF Olsen to manage the council’s forest estates for a term of 12 months (from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016).

In-committee report

This item arose from my request to release a confidential report to council on the Waimea Community Dam (dated September 2015). The mayor anticipating my request put a motion to council (recorded below) outlining his reasons why the report should not be released. While I am unable to summarise the discussion, I am able to report the voting. Although I am unable to report who supported making the voting public (and who did not).

Unfortunately, I did not secure support from the majority of council to make this report publicly available. Nor am I able to explain the arguments I made or the argument’s the mayor (and others) made. All I can say is that in my opinion the mayor’s argument made no sense and was quite ridiculous given some material would have been redacted. Clearly old habits are hard to break. The official minutes record the following resolution and outcome:

1. Receives the Request to Release 10 September In Committee Report report RCN15-12-08; and

2. Declines to publicly release RCN15-09-13 (Supplementary Report – Waimea Water Augmentation Project).

Cr Greening called for a division.

Bouillir Against

Bryant For

Canton Against

Dowler For

Edgar For

Ensor For

Greening Against

Higgins Against

Kempthorne For

King For

Norriss For

Sangster For

CARRIED

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2015/2015-12-03.

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Community development meeting (29 October)

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

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

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

There were no presentations from the public forum.

Minutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chairs report

Golden Bay (Takaka) recreation centre

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

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

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

Councillor updates

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

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

Community development activity report

The report provided the following highlights:

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

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

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

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

Reserves and facilities work plan

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

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

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

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

Pictures of Chelsea Avenue park equipment

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

Library activity report

The report provided the following highlights:

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

Customer services activities report

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

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

ComDev20151029-CustServ1

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

Moutere Hills community centre

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

Agenda and minutes

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

Community development meeting (17 September)

The community development committee meeting was held on 17 September 2015. A number of councillors were absent, including: the mayor, Crs King, Ensor, Mirfin, and Dowler.

The agenda included: (1) reserve financial contributions capital carry-over, (2) hall’s report, (3) Manager’s report, (4) reserves manager’s report, (5) chair’s report, and (6) Rainbow sports club remission of loan repayments. The last item was confidential, but was subsequently made public at the conclusion of the debate. The public forum received two presentations.

Due to the chair having a major engagement at 12 pm (the PM’s speech at the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce lunch at Siefrieds), a number of questions were taken off-line for staff to follow-up.

Outstanding Community Service Awards

Before I discuss the community development services meeting, I first want to take the opportunity to recognise the recipients of Tasman District Council’s Outstanding Community Service Awards. The awards event was held at the council chamber on 2 September 2015 with the mayor, Cr Edgar, and myself (and staff) in attendance.

The award winners for 2015 were:

  • Hazel Bartlett (Richmond) was honoured for her work in guiding visitors and residents alike through her work with Richmond Information Centre, organising the Lions Club bus trips and raising money to open the Richmond kindergarten.
  • Henk and Willa Visker (Golden Bay) for their work with Takaka Citizens Band, Golden Bay Orchestra, Kotinga Bowling Club, St John and the Wrinklies Bus.
  • Crowther Reynish (Golden Bay) for his involvement with the Takaka Citizens Band, Golden Bay RSA and Takaka rugby.
  • Dick Wenzel (Golden Bay) local veterinarian for his involvement with Golden Bay Orchestra, the Golden Bay High School Board, Wrinklies Express and numerous other clubs and committees.
  • Graeme Miller (Golden Bay) volunteer firefighter for his 26 years with Collingwood Volunteer Fire Service as well as his work with the Collingwood Area School Board of Trustees, Collingwood Health Centre committee and rugby.
  • Sue Netto (Golden Bay) for her long involvement as a volunteer for St John and fundraising for the rescue helicopter.
  • Valerie Stuart (Motueka) former nurse, acknowledged for her work as volunteer supervisor with Playcentre, Soroptimists, Motueka Hospice Shop and the Motueka Hospital Trust.
  • Mark Heine (Motueka) for his work with Motueka Idea Services and the Laura Ingram Kindergarten.

Two highly successful local businesspeople were also acknowledged for the contribution that they have made to their communities – not just in the business arena, but also through their leadership and philanthropy – Peter Goodman and Peter Talley.

I would like to congratulate all award recipients for their time, energy, and passion, in making the Tasman district a better place to work, play, and live. Thank you.

Public forum

Penny Griffiths (Golden Bay\Takaka Museum) gave a brief update on Takaka museum activities. This included: (1) a long term tenant had been found providing much needed financial security, (2) the whale project was getting good exposure although funds were still needed to complete the project, and (3) retired IT equipment had been provided to the museum by council.

Penny also raised concerns about the need to use council accredited builders for work on the museum building and the impact this had on getting competitive quotes for work. Apparently there was only one accredited builder in Takaka at present. Staff advised that the museum could get quotes from as many builders as they wanted. Although they could only use an accredited builder (someone who has shown council they have health and safety certification).

Andrew Smith emphasised to council that the ski club operating at Rainbow ski field was “asset rich but cash poor” and that “working capital was tight”. Although he also acknowledged a reserve cash fund (roughly $40,000) had been built up.

Reserve financial contributions capital carry-over

This is the second capital carry-over request council has considered in the last week. The last one was in relation to engineering projects (discussed in an earlier post).

By way of background, reserve financial contributions (RFCs) are charges that are generally imposed on property developers when they create subdivisions. These charges are then used to purchase land for public reserves (usually within the development), capital improvements and maintenance of assets on public reserves, or any other growth related projects. For more detail see www.tasman.govt.nz/policy/plans/annual-plans/annual-plan-2013-2014/draft-annual-plan-2013-2014/part-3-accounting-information/reserve-financial-contributions/.

Similar to engineering, a number of planned projects did not occur in the 2014-15 year, were only partially completed, or were deferred until the 2015-16 year.

Council approved the proposed carrry-overs. The totals for the respective wards were: (1) $21,695 Moueka, (2) $580,466 Golden Bay, (3) $310,288 Moutere, (4) $100,124 Murchison, and (5) $349,513 Richmond.

I raised a number of questions (both during the meeting and afterwards) in relation to the reporting of the deferred projects for Richmond (listed in this report), as they appear to be different to what was agreed to be carried forward in an earlier May 2014 memo. These issues were raised with staff and they have since responded. I have enclosed my email, and their response (shown in italics) below:

Hi Beryl,

I am just following up from my questioning of your report at the last community development meeting.

I restricted my questions for brevity, but thought I would also question some other changes from the 20 May 2014 memo.

In the May 2014 memo it was agreed what specified projects and amounts (see extract below), would be deferred and carried forward.

This only totalled $226,916, yet the September report asked to carry forward $349,513? This seems a large difference? The $226,916 was funding from 2013/2014 financial year to be carried forward to the 2014/2015 financial year. The $349,531 is the funding from 2014/2015 carried forward to this financial year. It does contain some funds from previous years.

The list contained in your September report had several differences from the May 2014 memo. These included: (1) reduced Dellside to $26,933, This was reduced as most of the work was carried out by volunteers so we didn’t require the full amount.
(2) added two new items (inlet walks $16,251 and General 16,251), These two amounts are for left over from the 2014/2015 walkway budgets original amounts of $25,000 each.

(3) inflated training lights to $87,000, this is a typo as you mentioned the original amount is $86,113 which we will round down to $86,000

(4) added waimea river park $15,885, this is a carried forward from the 2014/1015 financial year from a budget of $22,239

(5) reduced security camera’s to 30,000, this I rounded down to $30,000 to take off the inflation

and (6) increased Ben Cooper toilet to $111,193. This is the amount was in the 2014/2015 budget to be deferred to 2015/2016 we need to keep it on the books so it isn’t lost.

I mentioned training lights at the meeting. This was a typing error and we will make that change

I am happy to agree with any changes that have reduced carry forward amounts, but can you please explain the increases (and the new items).

I am also worried that other wards may have also carried forward more than they originally agreed too. I will check the other wards for similar issues.

Kind regards
Mark

I included this email in full (with staff comments in italics), because it not only answered my questions very succinctly (as well as making council more transparent), but it shows that while the odd mistake is made in reports to council (which is all very human), generally staff are quick to acknowledge any error and fix it. In my opinion, it’s the putting right that counts!

This draws me to another point. I consider that an important element of my role as a councillor is to help foster and develop the culture (and attitude) of this council. As a member of the public, you can also influence an organisations culture, by making sure that council actions that you like, are acknowledged (ideally to senior management or councillors). Only speaking up about the bad stuff, will only make an organisation fearful of making mistakes. If we want council to be innovative, we need to be prepared to experience the odd glitch. But at the same time, the organisation needs to have the confidence to acknowledge that it has made a mistake and will put it right.

My aspiration, is to have a council that is: transparent, honest, trustworthy, and open (its why I do this blog), provide enabling advice (rather than just restating the rules, and why you cannot do stuff), leading edge, innovative and embracing of change, acknowledge mistakes and put things right (or explain promptly why they cannot), and put the public (as a customer) at the centre of everything it does. A customer centric business is always a happy and successful one.

Hall’s report

Various unbudgeted repairs and maintenance work has been identified by staff. These included: (1) Hall fire alarm upgrades (price between $1,500 and $6,000 per hall), (2) Motueka memorial hall stage repair and handrails ($15,000), (3) Collingwood roof repair ($10,000), Pakawau roof repair (no estimate yet), and Golden Bay community centre flood protection ($10,000).

Councillors were somewhat surprised that these issues were not identified for inclusion in the long term plan (LTP). Staff advised that there was a surplus of $54,000 in a special purpose capital account that was agreed to be carried forward at the 10 September full council meeting. Although use of these funds would mean that they could not be used for other purposes or retiring debt. Council agreed with the staff recommendation to fund the identified repairs from the special purpose fund.

Council agreed that a pragmatic approach should be taken with the roll out of upgraded fire alarms. The problem being that some alarms were not appropriate for the hall size and their maximum capacity. Staff suggested that an assessment of a hall’s historical usage should help direct whether upgrades were necessary (or not).

However, in my opinion, numbers using the affected halls should have been limited to the constraints of the fire alarms, until planned maintenance occurred. I saw no reason to accelerate upgrades from new sources of funding. If we are to get council finances back on track, we need to be prepared (at least in the short-term) to be a little more reactionary.  I also raised questions of upgrading halls that might subsequently be disposed of. For example, council is considering disposal of some halls in the Golden Bay area, as part of funding the new community recreation facility building.

I consider Motueka hall stage should be repaired (as it was an unexpected discovery that would impact on immediate future use, as well as raising health and safety issues), but questioned the need for any new hand rails. Expenditure should only be for repairs or maintenance of existing assets.

Manager’s report

Highlights include:

  • Rifle club. The small bore rifle club currently resides in Nelson and is proposing to move to Saxton field. They have made an application for funding assistance through the contestable community grants scheme after making a public forum request for funding assistance.
  • Aquatic centre. The June period experienced a drop in casual swimming numbers. Total patronage visits in June (including the fitness centre) was 20,133 visits.
  • Golden Bay museum. The 6 monthly report for the period ended June 2015 was submitted. The board are currently seeking a new treasurer who recently resigned. Casual staff (termed “volunteers” in the report) over the holiday season accounted for $7,670. The board are again seeking 20 casual staff for the forthcoming holiday season. The 5 year strategic plan was reviewed in May 2015. The annual accounts showed an operating surplus of $14,337 and a net surplus of $9,294 after depreciation. Total income was $75,137 that comprised: a TDC grant of $47,000, fundraising of $9,000, donations and rental income of $5,000. Staffing costs are $37,348 and power $5,081.
  • Charges and fees. Moutere hills community centre (see www.mouterehills.org.nz) has increased some of their hire charges for the NBS sports hall by adding a “plus GST” component.
  • Libraries. Richmond library has partnered with Nelson Bays Community laws service to present “law for lunch”. This has proved very popular with topics including: powers of attorney, wills, estates, and relationship property. Richmond library has also been running a “stepping up” computer course.
  • Grants. 170 grant applications (totaling $423,610) were received by the grants committee, with $218,000 available in this round. Minor glitches with the online forma are being addressed.
  • Publications. The summer events guide (“Hummin”) has been reviewed by staff and will now be published in a joint venture with Nelson council. This change sees a $21,000 saving (formerly cost council $30,000 per annum and will now cost $9,000).
  • Health and safety. A number of recommendations have been made in relation to a recent incident at Richmond library. Recommendations included: reinforcing existing protocols, improved training (including customer vs customer conflict training), examining use of panic alarms and security camera systems.

Reserves manager’s report

Key project activity in the last 6 weeks included:

  • Richmond. Velodrome construction has begun with completion of drainage work. Avery Oval (Saxton field) toilet construction has begun. Washbourn gardens roses have been replaced with old fashioned roses donated by the Rose Society. Recent planting locations include: Sanderman road reserve, Hope hall, and the Inlet walkway.
  • Moutere. Richmond rotary club has constructed shelters over 2 BBQs on Rabbit Island reserve. Faulkner bush walkway was completed. Dovedale reserve has had new playground equipment ordered. Recent planting include: Dominion flats and Hoddy estuary park.
  • Motueka. Keep Motueka beautiful has revamped the shrubs near the public toilets at Motueka beach reserve, completion of a concept plan for a reserve in Stephens bay, paths completed at Sportspark Motueka, and training lights installed at Goodman park. Recent planting include sanctuary ponds.
  • Golden Bay. Lanscaping continues at Ligar bay, and new paths created at Takaka memorial reserve.
  • Murchison. Recent plantings include Hotham St walkway.

Chair’s report

Highlights from the chairs report include confirmation that the working party would complete the digital enablement plan (by the deadline of 18 September) that was bidding for government funding to extend broadband internet and mobil access across the Tasman district. The government has committed $210 million for the extension of the UFB programme.

In my opinion, these future information highways (are like roads), and will be important to the future potential development of this region’s economy, if it is to become less dependent on agricultural commodities (and the low wages associated with agriculture).

Another highlight was Tasman council being selected as one of eight finalists short listed (from 44 entries) for its new look long term plan consultation document. A big achievement considering the resources of other councils.

Rainbow sports club remission of loan repayments

This item was held in confidence. However, at the conclusion of the debate it was resolved to make the matter open to the public. This was a great move and councillors should be congratulated. Perhaps council is slowly coming around to greater transparency in its decision making?

By way of background, the Rainbow ski field is located outside the Tasman district. Some years ago the club got into financial troubles and sought financial assistance from 3 councils (Nelson council, Marlborough council, and Tasman council). The 3 councils have each provided an interest free loan of $90,000 to the club (totaling $270,000) to be repaid over 7 years in annual installments of $12,857 per year from 1 February 2010. Each year the ski club asks the councils to forgive that years debt obligation. In some years councils have declined that request. The relevant financial position for each year is outlined in the table below.

Year Due Paid Remitted  Position
Year 1 (2010)

$12,857.00

$0.00

$12,857.00

 Loss ($215,107)
Year 2 (2011)

$12,857.00

$12,857.00

$0.00

 Profit ($268,650)
Year 3 (2012)

$12,857.00

$0.00

$12,857.00

 Profit ($25,283)
Year 4 (2013)

$12,857.00

$12,857.00

$0.00

 Loss ($167,319)
Year 5 (2014)

$12,857.00

$12,857.00

$0.00

 Profit ($116,319)
Year 6 (2015)

$12,857.00

$0.00

$0.00

 Unknown
Year 7 (2016)

$12,857.00

$0.00

$0.00

 Unknown
Total

$90,000.00

$38,571.00

$25,714.00

To date, the ski club had received $25,714 of ratepayer funds by way of forgiven loan repayments and the council had received $38,571 of the $90,000 loan it had provided to the ski club. With $25,714 outstanding (for 2015 and 2016 years).

Earlier this year council had the opportunity to consider the Ski clubs financial position for the 2013 year and at the same time view the 2014 accounts (pre-audited). In light of the financial position in 2014, council declined the club’s request to forgive the repayment of the 2013 installment.

On 11 August 2015, the club submitted its audited 2014 accounts to council and asked for remission of its 2014 and 2013 installments. In justifying its request for remission of its 2014 installment, the club informed the council that it needed $100,000 in cash reserves to open for the following season, and considered that its “slightly improved financial position” in 2014 should not have impacted on council’s assessment of its 2013 position. I disagree.

Council had every right to examine the financial position of the club at the time it considered remitting loans. At that time (2014), it was evident that the club was in “more” than a slightly improved financial position. It had made a profit of $116,319 and had built up a cash reserve fund of $40,000. Interestingly the 2014 accounts had not included the remission of the TDC loan, which would have increased their profitability. It had also increased its net assets from $369,841 in 2013, to $486,241 in 2014. Major assets had already been acquired (ie Groomer, Quad bikes, Hilux) between 2006 and 2008 and had an estimated useful life of 12 years. Replacement of these assets could not be expected for some time. A Toyota Prada and Van had been acquired in 2012 and 2014.

Examining the assets register showed replacement rental equipment expenditure was in decline (roughly $25,000 in 2012, and $10,000 in 2013). This equipment was fully depreciated within a year of purchase. Rental equipment levels had been built up over time, and the decline in purchasing new rental equipment appeared to reflected replacement rather than expansion.

The reducing investment in capital assets could also be seen in the overall decline in depreciation costs, from $88,812 in 2013 to $69,116 in 2014. Remembering that depreciation is treated as an expense and so comes off income, their financial position looked quite healthy going forward. Including depreciation, net operating surplus was a $223,547 loss in 2013 and a $35,960 in 2014. Excluding depreciation, operating surplus was a $133,735 loss in 2013, and a $105,076 profit in 2014.

Given the $40,000 in cash reserves, the forgiveness of 2014 installments from Nelson and Marlborough councils, and the indications the club would only need a $100,000 for the next financial year, it appeared that it could afford the $25,714 council was asking for (of which $12,857 had already been recognised in the 2014 accounts).

Council was asked to consider four options, although it pretty much came down to two options. Option 1, declined a remission in the 2013 and 2014 year, but remitted the outstanding loans in 2015 and 2016 (totaling $25,714). Or Option 3, declined a remission in the 2013 and 2014 year, and consider the 2015 and 2016 loans in the future when they come due.

Effectively, the issue councillors were being asked to debate was whether council should forgive the 2015 and 2016 loan installments.

Staff recommended option 1. Their reasoning was based on the costs incurred in assessing the remission of the 2015 and 2016 installments. When pressed, staff considered that the total cost of preparing the report (that was before council) was $10,000. And that this was a good indicator for future report costs.

I found this an extraordinary estimate, and I noted that no such estimate was included in the report itself. In my opinion, the cost of assessing the 2015 and 2016 installments would be much lower, as much of the report had already been written, and merely required numbers to be updated. It was a simple process of reviewing the financials and indicating if the ski club could afford to pay $12,857 (or not). I would have thought that this would not take much time at all. And certainly not incurring the hours that had been spent on the report before us (which only raised other issues).

Cr Bouillir made a compelling argument for remitting the loans on the basis of the community benefit that the club provided. She was concerned that not remitting the loans would risk the club again getting into financial trouble, and the use of the ski field being lost forever. Emphasis was also placed on the fact that the loan was seen very much as a grant when it was first provided.

In my opinion, I did not see such a risk, having viewed the clubs financial statements and the financial trends in its accounts. The reality was that this was a loan (which had been interest free) and the club could now afford to make repayment. The dire circumstances it was in several years ago had passed, and it was steadily building up its asset base and cash reserves.

If option 1 was supported, the council would have gifted (remitted) over $50,000 of ratepayer funds to the ski club, that could not be used for the benefit of another organisation, that might also require community support. While I could see that remitting $25,714 to avoid the risk of an additional $20,000 of council report costs, was a sensible risk management decision, I could not agree with staff that the cost of preparing two reports (in 2015 and 2016) would cost $20,000. I suspect some other councillors did not agree either.

In my opinion, the club was well run and fiscally prudent. It had shown a willingness to dispose of assets to raise cash when needed. Something it could not do a number of years ago. The club now had a good asset base. Although I note, that it appeared the club was not willing to leverage its assets to raise debt. While the council had provided financial support to the club through a difficult time (which was the purpose of the investment), that was no longer the case.

A division was called. By majority (Cr Edgar, Bouillir, Canton, and Bryant), Option 1 was carried, with the casting vote of the chair. Councillors Norris, Higgins, Inglis, and myself, dissenting.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/community-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CommunityServicesCommittee/2015/2015-09-17.

Media

2015 ski season a successful one (Nelson mail). http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/72692451/sun-slush-and-snow-for-cup-competitors

 

 

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

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

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

Public forum

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

Golden Bay (Mohua) Landscape Project

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

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

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

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

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

Resource consents

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

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

Applications Lodged During 2014-2015 Year

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

Certificate of Compliance

2

10

6

4

7

3

Coastal

20

21

16

55

36

17

Discharge

124

202

133

152

171

231

Water

61

247

134

173

189

349

Land Use District

431

478

548

474

438

480

Land Use Regional

141

31

42

35

36

39

Designation

10

4

0

2

0

5

Outline Plan

19

15

14

6

8

15

Subdivision

188

137

151

120

130

131

Rights of Way

9

13

8

6

12

12

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

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

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

Timeliness of Non-notified Applications

NonNotified2015

Timeliness of Public and Limited Notified Applications

PublicNotified2015

Contact Recreation Water Quality Annual Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coastal beach locations

WaterQuality2015_1

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

Freshwater locations

WaterQuality2015_2

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

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

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

Dog Control Policy and Practices

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manager’s report

Highlights of the report include:

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

Agenda and minutes

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

Extraordinary full council meeting

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

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

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.

Corporate Services Committee (30 January 2014)

The Corporate Services Committee meeting was held on Thursday 30 January 2014. All councillors were in attendance.

The agenda comprised a number of reports. However, the ones of particular interest to me were: (1) rates remission requests, (2) the Takaka service centre proposal, and (3) treasury policy changes.  Other activities were also reported on, including: (1) treasury activities, (2) corporate and finance activities, (3) property management activities, and (3) information services activities.

Rates remission

The first, rates remission, because it seemed peculiar that such a minor sum would come before council for consideration and approval. Especially when the amounts were no more than approximately $300 and $400 respectively. As Cr Sangster rightly pointed out, the authorisation process was not complicated and anything under $1,000 should automatically be authorised under delegated authority, without the need for council to rubber stamp the request. The cost of preparing the two reports for council’s consideration would have probably cost more than what was being allowed by way of the claimed rates reduction.

I also believe that trivial administrative matters should not be coming to council when staff are fully capable of showing some initiative. Thats why we have delegated authority. Hopefully, these will be dealt with in the future by way of a line in future management reports showing trends in rates remission requests and the amounts being approved.

For those wanting to know more about the process for remissions from natural disasters, a helpful decision flowchart is contained on page 11 of the agenda (see link below).

Takaka service centre

At present, due to the existing service centre being earth-quake prone, council staff are operating the service centre from a temporary leased premises.  Council have been presented with a number of options going forward. These include: (1) continuing to lease premises, (2) strengthen the service centre so it is earth-quake compliant, (3) demolish and rebuild the old service centre, or (4) build a new separate building for the service centre that could also be used for other purposes (ie a mixed civic-commercial use). For example, space could be leased to a Government Agency (ie DoC) or other businesses. Council staff support the later option as the better long term option.

Another option could be the expansion of the new Takaka library as a community “hub” for library and service centre functions (and perhaps tourism information too). Why can’t you pay for rates and make general enquiries from a shared library-service centre front desk? Whether it incorporates a mixed civic-commercial use would depend on available space. This option might require a second floor due to limited surrounding land. Unfortunately, it appears that when the new Takaka library was being planned, no one considered bringing all of council’s services together under one roof.

Another option (suggested by Cr Sangster) was to locate a new mixed use service centre building where the current tourism (i-site) building is located. This option had some merit, but might also require acquiring surrounding land or building a two storey building.

A complicating factor is the use of the old service centre building. If it were no longer used for council purposes, it might revert back to central government ownership. It was decided that a working party would be established to investigate all options to find the most cost effective solution.

At the end of the day, whatever option was decided would require some sizeable capital investment in Takaka. What concerns me is that other capital investments are also being considered for the Takaka-Golden Bay region. In particular, a new community centre. When both capital projects are considered together, it seems to me that council is over capitalising in a region that does not have a large population. Especially at a time when we need to be keeping debt and rates down.

In my opinion, council need to be recognising that they cannot do everything at once and may have to shelve a new community centre in Golden Bay until such time as the wider district can afford it. The Golden Bay community centre is a nice to have. It is not critical. Now is not the time to be building another community centre when more pressing capital investment is required. For example, water storage projects (ie Lee Valley Dam) and storm water projects to protect people’s homes.

Treasury policy changes and activities

As part of an overall review and improvement of council’s financial functions, treasury policy has been updated to minimise external borrowing. In effect, the policy changes are operational. Rather than operating a series of separate reserve bank accounts, a whole of balance sheet approach will be adopted (with designated funds and their movement, being recorded on the balance sheet, rather than in a separate bank account). This will allow greater flexibility with the application of funds (and the repayment of debt) as well as reduce the number of bank facilities that the council currently utilises.

TDC has cancelled $25 million of bank facilities (ie, available debt to draw on) due to greater use of the Local Government Funding Agency (LGFA) for borrowing. A further $10 million transfer of debt in bank facilities to the LGFA is expected February and March 2014.

In response to concerns over some loans appearing on ward reserve financial contribution (RFC) funds, a review of RFC’s are being undertaken to ensure loans are correctly recorded against the RFC fund.

It has been proposed that any work on the Mapua wharf be  funded from the Motueka harbour and coastal works account on a fully commercial basis.

As at 31 December 2013, cash investments totalled $5.48 million at an average interest rate of 3.89% and council debt totalled 153.13 million at a weighted average interest rate of 5.189%. As at 31 December 2013, TDC had $130.78 million  of interest rate swaps in place to protect against interest rate fluctuations and provide certainty over the cost of  debt.

It should be noted that council debt fluctuates depending on the time of reporting and should not be confused with the reported projected debt figure for the end of  the 2013-14 financial year (ie at 30 June 2014).

Finance activities

As at 30 November 2013, income was 3.9 million above budget and expenditure was $2.7 above budget –  a net surplus of approximately $1.2 million. While much of the savings may be related to timing, there are good signs that by the end of the financial year (ie 30 June 2014), TDC might be carrying a surplus to address debt (thus reducing the increasing costs of debt for subsequent years as interest rates continue to rise).

While TDC debtors (ie people who owe the TDC money) has reduced by almost $1 million from October 2013 to November 2013 (ie $5.737 million to $4.743 million). Allowing for timing issues (and the processing of invoices), it is still much higher than the same time last year (ie $3.66 million in November 2012).

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes for this meeting can be found at: http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/corporate-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CorporateServicesCommittee/2014/2014-01-30.