The community development committee meeting was held on 10 December 2015. Apologies were received from the Mayor and Crs Dowler and Ensor for lateness. All other councillors were present.
The agenda included: (1) chair’s report, (2) community development activities report, (3) enviro-schools programme for 2014-2015, (4) community development action sheet report, and (5) an in-committee (confidential) report regarding Wakefield pensioner housing.
This meeting was a rather tense one – as I raised two issues that appeared to show staff acting contrary to the spirit of earlier discussions. The first related to the recording of minutes, and the second in relation to receiving approval to spend money on replacing playground equipment in Chelsea Avenue Park.
Council was asked to confirm the confidential minutes of the 17 September 2015 meeting. You might recall from my earlier post of that meeting (see www.greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/community-development-meeting-17-september/), that I had 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 I proposed 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.
After some discussion (and with the chairs support), the manager asked that my proposed addition to the minutes be deferred until the next community development meeting (being this one), so that the staff member (then on leave) could be consulted as to what was said.
However, at this meeting, the proposed minutes of the in-committee report stated something quite different. The minutes had now inserted the following paragraph (as written by staff):
In response to questions regarding the estimated cost of generating subsequent reports and administrating the loan, Mr Tregurtha advised that this would have been approximately $10,000 in the last year, including writing several reports, analysing the financial information and following up on the outstanding loan payments.
This was a subtle change from “$10,000 per report” to “$10,000 in the last year”.
I took issue with this change to the minutes. First, this was not what had been said. Secondly, the staff wording had jumped the que. Surely my wording had to be considered (and voted on by council) first. After all, I had deferred a vote on my proposed amendment to the minutes so staff could be consulted. Thirdly, there appeared to be no proposal to make this insertion by staff, other than the resolution to accept the minutes. Surely any change to the original minutes, tabled at the earlier meeting (or this meeting), had to record a change? Fortunately, this blog corrects that.
The response from the chair was that there had been no agreement on my proposed words and they had anyway been defeated? A position contrary to what had been earlier agreed – that my proposed words would be left on the table so staff could seek clarification for absent staff. There was also no record (in the minutes) of my words being defeated by a vote?
I found this to be an extraordinary position for the chair to take. Nevertheless, the chair proceeded to call for mover and seconder of the motion to approve the Minutes “as amended” (by staff). My dissent being over-ruled and ignored. The motion was carried (myself voting against it).
The lesson in all this, is get the formal motion seconded so it has to be minuted (before leaving it on the table) – and then invite staff to come back and seek amendment at the next meeting. Being flexible appears to leave you open to being taken advantage of.
Chair’s report – Chelsea Avenue park
During the chairs report, I took the opportunity to raise my concerns over the decision by Cr Edgar and Cr Higgins to approve spending of $25,000 on replacing play ground equipment in Chelsea Avenue Reserve Park (also known as “Harriet Court Park”).
By way of background, in early 2014, I had noted that the Richmond reserve financial contributions (RFC) account in the long term plan (LTP), proposed to spend around $54,000 on replacing playground equipment in Harriet Court Park. This expenditure was a carry over of earlier approval by councilors in 2011-12 Annual Plan, but spending it had been delayed, due to the storm event in 2011.
I thought this was a rather large sum and sought to investigate the park equipment myself. The Richmond RFC account is governed by the four ward councillors.
As an aside, I had noticed when I first joined council that the annual funds of the RFC account was spent on the basis of projected income (ie, the next years revenue from development contributions), which had regularly resulted in the account spending more than it subsequently earned (and having to borrow funds to cover the over-spending). In my mind this seemed poorly managed and I suggested that the RFC account would be better managed if it only spent money it had received from the earlier year, rather than trying to project funds from possible development activity in the future year. This is now how RFC accounts are managed.
In 2015, council agreed to carry over the 2014-15 budget into the 2015-16 year (see www.greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/community-development-meeting-17-september/). Staff had also reassured councillors that just because it was budgeted, did not mean it had to be spent. Ward councillors still had to authorise any RFC spending.
On inspection I discovered that the park equipment appeared to be in fairly good condition. I took some photographs (see my earlier posts) and sought clarification from staff over what equipment was proposed to be replaced. I was advised that the “rail track ride” was rusty and needed to be replaced, as well as the “turn style” as part of the normal replacement program. Apparently, equipment would normally be replaced when staff considered it had come to the end of its estimated useful life (EUL).
Leaving aside the fact “EUL” is a tax depreciation concept (not the actual useful life of an asset), I suggested that if equipment had to be replaced, a better approach would be to remove the offending equipment. If the community asked about any removed equipment, then we could investigate a solution (including replacement). If not, then we had saved some money. I also suggested that we should only be replacing equipment, if it actually needed replacing, and not because it had come to the end if its EUL. From my observations, the “rail track ride” was hardly used.
I again raised my concerns during the community development meeting on 29 October 2015 (see www.greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2015/11/06/community-development-meeting-29-october/).
In my opinion, the staff’s program of replacing equipment at the end of the assets estimated life was not good asset management. Just because the estimated useful life (EUL) had expired, did not mean it needed replacement. All it meant was the asset could no longer be depreciated. If the asset was still functioning (and safe), then it should be left alone.
It’s also worth noting that this “smarter” approach to asset management (based on “actual” life from real inspection, versus estimated life from a theoretical end of life) is also the new approach to asset management that the engineering team was now adopting for roading infrastructure.
Parks and reserve staff appeared unenthused with my suggestion of removal (rather than replacement), and sought to survey the local residents (to see if there was support for new equipment), as well as wait until the next maintenance report was received from the council’s contractor. In seeking to remain involved in any future decisions, I asked to be “kept in the loop”.
Apparently the survey (which I was only told about in late November 2015) asked for the following information: (1) age of children, (2) number of children, (3) items of play equipment that are enjoyed or would like to see within this development, (4) comments or any other improvements to the reserve in general, and whether they would they like to attend a site meeting.
In a subsequent discussion with staff, it appeared that the “rail ride” was no longer the problem and staff acknowledged that it probably just needed a coat of paint. I continued to monitor the park, to see if there was much use of play equipment.
On one occasion I had a chat with a group of young mothers about their thoughts on council spending large amounts of money on park equipment. They were quite taken back by the level of planned spending and suggested the equipment was fine, and the only thing that needed attention was the “turn style” ride, which needed some oil. Other than that, the equipment only needed “a slap of paint”. If equipment was dangerous it could be removed. In their opinion, there was already “more than enough equipment to use” and most children used the field (to kick a ball around) or the dirt mound. I agree.
Subsequently, I learned from staff that they had received approval from Cr Edgar and Higgins to spend $25,000 on replacing some equipment. Apparently this decision was based on the maintenance report, that had recommended replacing some at risk equipment.
As you might appreciate, I was a little disappointed in staff’s failure to contact me about their need for a decision on replacing some equipment, given my prior interest. Surely, it was not to difficult to email or phone me? But no such contact, before or after that meeting with Cr Edgar and Higgins, was made. I only learned of the decision, from following up staff on when they would be likely to receive the results from the community survey.
On learning of the decision to spend $25,000 on replacing equipment, I immediately raised my concern with management and asked that the decision be placed on hold pending discussions with the other ward councillors. Given nothing had been spent (or ordered yet), management agreed. I then asked for a copy of the maintenance report, so I could be informed over what assets were the subject of spending.
The report forwarded to me highlighted the following items:
|Asset||Survey date||Age||Condition||Maintenance||Recommendation||Capital value||Recommendation||Comment|
|Spinner||08/07/10||20 years||3 (average)||Bearing loose.||Tighten fitting. Cost $50||$3,500.00||Replacement at end of life (rank 3)||Similar type of accident to Invercargill|
|See-saw||08/07/10||10 years||2 (above average)||$3,500.00||Replacement at end of life (rank 4)|
|Module (small)||08/07/10||10 years||3 (average)||Track ride, loose rattles. Deck bent. Post splintered. Slide entrapment. Panels loose.||Secure track ride. Monitor bent deck. Plane off splinter. Fill slide entrapment. Provide spacer on panel. Cost $100.||$30,000.00||Replacement at end of life (rank 4)|
|Springy||08/07/10||10 years||3 (average)||Does not rock.||$2,900.00||Replacement at end of life (rank 3)|
|Swings||08/07/10||10 years||3 (average)||$4,500.00||Replacement at end of life (rank 3)|
|Surfaces||08/07/10||3 bark surfaces.||Replenish bark. Cost. $257 +$1,320 +$257||$857 + $2,264 +$857|
Consistent with the observations of the mothers I had spoken with earlier (see above), the spinner needed a bearing replacement (and probably some oil too). Cost $50. Also, the rail track ride did not appear in this report, consistent with earlier discussions with staff that the track ride was fine. In my opinion, this report did not justify any replacement work.
After digesting the report, I sought to raise this issue at the next committee meeting (which was this one). The ward councillors could then decide how they wanted to proceed.
After raising my concerns about the proposed spending and explaining why these assets did not need replacement, just because the EUL had expired, I was advised by staff that they had sent me the wrong maintenance report. Why I was not advised of this before the start of the meeting (perhaps via an email or phone call) was never explained.
Apparently the report I had been sent was for the earlier year. Copies of the “correct” report were immediately circulated around the committee meeting. Staff then went about talking through the correct report. I had always wondered what an ambush felt like, now I knew.
The correct report contained the following information:
|Asset||Survey date||Age||Condition||Maintenance||Recommendation||Capital value||Recommendation||Comment|
|Turn-style||12/12/14||25 years||3 (average)||Bearing loose.||Tighten fitting. Cost ?||$3,500.00||Replacement at end of life (rank 3)||Similar type of accident to Invercargill|
|Track ride||12/12/14||5 years||2 (above average)||$15,000.00||Replacement at end of life (rank 4)|
|Module (small)||12/12/14||30 years||3 (average)||Post splintered. Tunnel split.||Fill slide entrapment. Plane off splinter. Re-secure tunnel. Cost $100.||$15,000.00||Replacement at end of life (rank 2)||Toggle entrapment, finger entrapment in deck, no slide run out, hard object in swing fall space.|
|Springy||12/12/14||15 years||3 (average)||Does not rock.||$3,000.00||Replacement at end of life (rank 3)|
|Swings||12/12/14||15 years||3 (average)||$3,500.00||Replacement at end of life (rank 3)||Finger entrapment in chains|
|Surface||12/12/14||3 bark surfaces. Nail in edge.||Remove nail.||$1,813.33 + $4,788.33 + $1,813.33||Replacement at end of life (rank 3, 3 and4).|
Interestingly, there was little change between the two reports. Although its worth noting that this survey was done a year ago (14 December 2015), the rail track ride had now appeared in the report, and the capital value of the small module had changed from $30,000 to $15,000. Interestingly, bark depth (assessed in the 8 July 2010 report) was no longer an issue. Also, the spinner (now called a “turn-style”) had no cost estimate for the bearing and now recommended just tightening the fitting.
However, the main item of concern for staff was now a 2 metre slide fixed to a junior play equipment module (photo above). According to staff, the slide had to be replaced. This was because a playground safety standard specified that all slides had to have a 2 metre run off, and this slide did not. Unfortunately, given the age of the module (at the end of its EUL) a suitably sized slide could not be found, so the entire module would have to be replaced (a $15,000 cost). The report also noted that the module had come to the “end of the asset life”. For these reasons, staff supported the assets total replacement.
This was also the first time staff had raised the issue of the slide (with me). Which was rather perplexing, given I had been engaged in extensive discussions about the park equipment leading up to this meeting. And at no time had staff raised the issue of a slide? Rather it had always been the rail track and spinner (turn-style).
I did not agree with the slide replacement. In my opinion, if there was a safety standard that staff had to adhere too, then the most cost effective solution was to remove the slide. Replacing the whole module because of a single slide made no sense.
From my own observations, it appeared that very few children (if any) appeared to used the junior module or its slide (top picture). Instead young parents and children preferred to use the other larger module, which also had a slide (see photo below). Yes, this park has two slides.
It subsequently came to my attention (on making further enquiries after the meeting) that the standard was not a mandatory standard. In effect, staff were not compelled to adhere to the standard. The fact the standard was not mandatory was not disclosed in the meeting. A rather glaring omission, in my opinion.
According to a guide on the standard (see www.playgrounds.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Playground-People-PinkBook.pdf), it states:
NZS 5828:2004 is not retrospective or, currently, as with previous standards, a legal requirement but represents “best practice” in the event of an accident claims. Their limitations should be recognised: mere compliance will not automatically create a safe playground. Like previous playground standards they are intended to be used intelligently.
If the standard is not mandatory (or a legal requirement), why are we blindly adhereing to it? Especially when there have been no reported incidents from having a short run-off on the slide? I suspect there is an element of over zealous risk management going on here.
In my opinion it would appear staff were running scared of the presence of a standard (or using it to justify replacement expenditure). I suspect staff reasoning was partially influenced by EUL and concern that if there was an accident, the fact we did not abide by a (non-mandatory) standard might expose council (and staff) to potential liability.
In my opinion, such an approach fails to take into account the fact that standards are generally evidentiary in nature, and this one was not even mandatory. As such, other evidence could be called upon to show risk was appropriately managed.
According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (at www.dol.govt.nz/publications/nohsac/reviewefficacy/008_content.asp):
Codes of practice ‘approved’ or otherwise officially ‘made’ under OHS legislation have a quasi-legal status. At a minimum, they are evidentiary, and legislation provides for their use as evidence in Court.
However, they are not legally binding. They provide guidance about an acceptable way (or ways) to comply with an OHS statute (or regulations), but there is the option to devise alternative ways of satisfying legal obligations. Voluntary codes and non-statutory guidance material are also flexible instruments that provide advice but they have a less formal status.
Adherence to a standard is just one aspect of establishing unreasonable risk taking (and that all practicable steps had been taken to avoid unreasonable risk). Additional evidence, like the playground (in particular the slide) not having any accidents, in its entire 25 year life, would (in my opinion) be a valid consideration. Remembering that this related to a slide run off (worst case, a sore bottom)?
When one looks at the slide (image at the top of this post) it’s fairly evident that staff are over-reacting to safety concerns from a short run off at the end of the slide. Leaving aside the fact that the slide has no recorded accidents, and is not particularly long, so its doubtful a child could get up much speed to slide off the end with any force? One also needs to remember that the standard is not intended to be retrospective anyway? Which means it is not intended to apply to older equipment installed before the standard was released, only new equipment.
Staff also pointed to safety concerns of the “turn-style”. The initial report identified this required the replacement of its bearings and the fact it had come to the end of its life (ie EUL). Staff also highlighted that a child had been injured on a similar piece of equipment (in a similar condition) in Invercargill, and therefore it also had to be replaced. No other items were discussed or highlighted for replacement.
Again, the fact there had never been an incident on the Harriet Park turn-style (in its 15 years, and in its current state), was given no consideration. Nor the fact it would be repaired so that it would be in a different state to the one in Invercargill.
It was also not made clear if there was any liability for the Invercargill council arising from the accident (which I suspect there was not). Causation is hard to prove at the best of times, and accidents happen. In my mind, the turn-style should have been either fixed or removed, but not replaced. Again, I favoured removal (if there was any doubt).
At the conclusion of the staff’s presentation, Cr Dowler supported the staff’s recommendation. Pointing out several other features that he considered were unsafe (none of which had been identified in the professional report). In my mind, this was just another example of a councillor reverting to unsupportable arguments to support (and rubber stamp) their endorsement of staff proposals.
Cr Norris also became quite irritated that ward business had been brought to the committee table. I pointed out to him that it had been brought before the ward councillors at the earliest opportunity (as well as to alert other councillors about the possibility of unnecessary replacement spending occurring in their own Ward RFC accounts), and I was only too happy to discuss the issue at the conclusion of the meeting. Cr Mirfin supported this option.
However, the chair (Cr Edgar) did not, and called for an immediate resolution to support the staff’s recommended spending (as approved by herself and Cr Higgins). I voted against the resolution and lost (with no support from any other councillors).
Having spoken to a number of people at the park, on the occasions I have visited, it is apparent that the community do not want vast sums of money spent on the park and were open to equipment being removed if it became dangerous. In the opinion of one resident, the equipment did not need to be replaced, and “there was already enough equipment to play on”. Another resident thought it was an over-reaction and agreed other solutions (removal or soft padding near the end of the slide) should have been explored by staff first.
In my opinion, this is another example of wasteful spending, both initially proposed by staff, and subsequently endorsed by the majority of councillors. In my opinion, a number of councillors are out of touch with the community they are suppose to be representing.
Some people have suggested that not spending money on a park is more newsworthy than over-spending on a park. I disagree. Council had the opportunity to demonstrate it was working hard to save money. The items driving replacement of the entire module (ie the slide) did not need to be replaced. And if it did, the slide could have been easily removed. Instead council governance (and staff) choose to spend.
In my opinion, this reflects a culture of some long established council members, who are only to keen to rubber stamp spending. That culture needs to change. Perhaps it will only change if council is refreshed with new representatives and leadership.
One final point. While these RFC funds are held in a closed account, that does not mean they should be wasted. Funds saved now, can be used for other worthwhile community projects at a later date (for example, improved public toilets or more toilets). Its about getting the most from the assets (and funds) we have. Rather than spending it, because we have it.
[Update: At the time of writing this post, the small module had still not been replaced. Here’s hoping the decision can be revisited (or stalled by more sensible members of staff). Lets keep our costs (and rates) down].
Community development activities
The manager’s report highlighted the following activities:
- Velodrome. The Saxton Velodrome trust had raised $250,000 of the $320,000 it had to raise (as part of its 20% share of the cost).
- Golden bay recreation facility. The building contract was awarded to Gibbons construction with a completion date of October 2016. This meant that the tender panel (comprising Cr Edgar and Cr Norris) had also agreed that the in-kind contribution had been fulfilled. A condition of the approval was confirmation that the community could fund their portion of the constructions cost. Plans can be viewed on: www.tasman.govt.nz/policy/public-consultation/completed-consultations/2014-consultations/feedback-form-golden-bay-community-recreation-facility-concept-plan/.
- Events. In Your neighbourhood (at Easby Park, Richmond) was held on 1 November 2015. The event was internally managed and cost $500 (flyers), plus $200 (port-a-loo), plus staff time (leave in lieu). The event show cases council activities (including cycling safety) as well as volunteer groups. Having attended the event, I thought it was a good way for council to engage with residents.
- Mudcakes and roses survey. Staff conducted a survey about this publication. Less than 60 people responded. 55 liked the publication, 8 neutral and 2 didn’t like it. The publication has a print run of 3,500 copies (800 copies go to NCC and 150 to Nelson library). It is published every 2-months (6 issues a year). Print and production costs are roughly $8,700 per issue (roughly $50,000 per year). The net cost (after advertising and NCC grants) is around $5,200 per issue ($31,000 per year). The low feedback given the print run, suggests the publication readership is not high (and probably very marginal). The survey results (hardly within a margin of statistical significance) showed the events section was the most popular. This suggests that the events section needs to be migrated to another source (eg www.itson.co.nz and\or age concern’s own publication, and\or public notice boards). Given this publication did not get a lot of support during the LTP consultation (several submissions suggesting it should be terminated) would suggest its time to end this publication and save some money. I again stressed at the meeting that staff should consider terminating this publication. Other councilors were ambivalent. Staff advised that they will instead consider the survey results in order to develop a range of options for delivering information to older residents. In my opinion, more staff time wasted.
- Contracts. A new management contract is currently being considered by the recreation centre committee. In my opinion, a standard templated contract approach is highly desirable, given the issues with council contracts in the past (eg the mayor signing a contract without specifying a price). Why the mayor never challenged such a contract is incomprehensible? Wellington city council have a series of standard template contracts (see www.wellington.govt.nz/~/media/your-council/selling-products-and-services/WCC-Services-Contract-Template-July-2014.pdf), which appear based on government templated contracts (see www.business.govt.nz/procurement/for-agencies/government-model-contracts).
- Online payments. A number of services are now able to be paid and received remotely via receipt of online payments (see www.tasman.govt.nz/services/make-a-payment/).
- Aquatic and fitness centre. The September 2015 report showed patronage of 25,576.
- Public engagement. Staff forecast that the number of engagement exercises is “only going to grow”. Staff are exploring new ways to engage with the public given public meetings as an engagement vehicle are diminishing in popularity.
- Libraries. New online paperless registration process for new borrowers started from 1 December 2015. Around 195 new borrowers are registered each month. No trend reports were included in the agenda.
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/2015/2015-12-10.
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.
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.
YTD October 2015
|Direct operational costs||
|Project capital costs||
|Indirect operational costs||
|Project Funding sources|
|WWAC opening balance||
|Loan funded balance||
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
|Total Net Debt||
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|
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 is below budget by $2.089 million with a forecast underspend of $2.126m at the end of the 2015-16 financial year.
The total debt ledger is up $1,843,076, and 3-month overdue ledger up $1,221,463, from September 2014.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Agenda and minutes
The community development committee meeting was held on 8 May 2014. Apologies were received from Cr King and myself.
The agenda (comprising 165 pages) included the following topics: (1) an update on the velodome project, cyclone ita recovery work, new library facilities, (2) the draft open space strategy, (3) an update on the kina leases hearing, (4) funding of the Brook Waimarama sanctuary pest proof fence, (5) an update on council communication related programs and events, (6) the ecofest and environment awards, (7) call centre activity report, (8) natural burial ground information, and (9) other pending activities.
While I was not at the meeting I did forward several observations to the chair, (together with an update report to council as council representative and chair of the Richmond Bridge and Croquet Club management committee), which I highlight below.
Mr Clarke asked that the estuary power lines be relocated.
The community manager’s report covered a number of activities. A few highlights are summarised below.
- Velodrome: Construction of Saxton Field’s velodrome is currently out for tender. By way of background, both TDC and NCC agreed to relocate the velodrome from Trafalgar Park to Saxton field as park of the Trafalgar park revamp (in anticipation of the rugby world cup).
- Library facilities: The Richmond library’s imaginarium is offering a new digitizing service – due to acquiring slide and negative scanning equipment. Residents are invited to share online any slides related to world war 1 as part of our centenary celebrations.
- Cyclone recovery work: Cyclone Ita caused some damage to a number of council reserves (mainly toppling trees). Staff (and contractors) have been busy tidying up the damage.
Special thanks (and boquet) to those contractors who undertook tidy up work on some roads (on their own initiative and at their cost). Great to see such great community spirit.
Open space strategy
A draft open space strategy document was tabled for approval and public release (for a 6 week consultation period). The document is part of the current financial year’s budgeted program of public consultation. The strategy is aimed at improving the councils management of reserves and intended to identify acquisition and development priorities as a result of future growth.
My first impression of the document (which is contained in the agenda from pp 29 to 102) was that it was too long (albeit a good read) and seemed to outline what actions council was already undertaking. I came away wondering what feedback they actually wanted and wondered if this was more for internal consumption. While the document did provide a short introduction and a few key questions, I think it could have benefited from an executive summary (for those who could not be bothered reading all 70 pages) together with all the questions that the council wanted feedback on, clearly articulated up front (or in a separate questionaire). I thought the council’s earlier “urban development questionaire” was a far more effective document in getting reader engagement and feedback on important community topics.
Readers of this blog will be aware that the council entered into a funding agreement with a private group (who formed a company called “Kina Reserve Ltd”) in order to purchase 10.7 ha of land known as the LEH Baigent Reserve. In return for KRL contributing $413,531 towards the council’s purchase of the land, council undertook to begin a public consultation process over leasing out a smaller parcel of the land for the establishment of some boat sheds.
A hearing panel was formed and 12 submissions were received. After considering submissions the panel concluded that 5 leases (of just less than 35 years) be granted for the purpose of boat sheds, without any right of renewal. That the boat sheds reside within a 55 metre area and that all 5 leases fall within a total area of 1,000 metres. Various other environmental conditions were also imposed. Any boat sheds that were constructed would also have to go through the normal consent process.
My main concerns were about ensuring the lease did not trip any subdivision rules (now or in the future), and that there would be no ability to transfer ownership (eg via trusts changing the make up of beneficiaries).
In my opinion, this was a very successful outcome for everyone involved. The community acquired 10.7 ha of land for public use and some private individuals received a very limited period of private use as reward for assisting the council in its purchase. While I think it might be overstating the arrangement to suggest council could not have done it without private funding (given council seems to find funds for other activities), this is still a very good outcome for the ratepayers.
Brook Waimarama sanctuary
In the 2013-14 annual plan, council agreed to grant the Brook Sanctuary $157,899 towards its pest proof fence (subject to it obtaining other funding). In the draft annual plan for 2014-15 council proposes payment of a second final installment (being $155,046) towards construction of the fence.
Before the council can make these payments, staff require authorisation to enter into a funding agreement with the Trust. The agreement confirms the two installment funding arrangement and notes that the second installment is subject to approval in the 2014-15 annual plan. The agreement directs that the funds only be used for the purpose of constructing the fence. A copy of the agreement is contained in the agenda (at p 129).
The community relations manager provided an update on various activities. These included: (1) online activity – including 2,537 draft annual plan visits, (2) monitoring of Fresh FM downloads\pod casts, which are available from the tasman website, (3) an increase in TDC twitter and facebook followers, (4) riparian planting activities in Golden Bay in conjunction with schools, landowners, and fonterra, and (5) 3,000 people attending the positive aging expo. TDC’s involvement cost ratepayers $869.57.
Ecofest and environment awards
There are two activities that TDC and NCC jointly fund and support. The event and awards are held every two years (ie biennially). The first is Ecofest and the second are the environment awards. Earlier this year, council supported the concept of a touring Ecofest event in light of Trafalgar centre closing due to earthquake risk concerns. And that the environment awards form part of the Ecofest event. Recently, NCC announced that it would not be supporting the ongoing funding of the event and sought expressions of interest from the private sector to hold the event at Founders park (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/9887226/Ecofest-may-become-one-day-event). I think what NCC is suggesting makes a lot of sense. I considered TDC should also support NCC in its approach.
In light of NCC’s pending decision, council decided to hold off making any further decision until NCC had made theirs. The aim being to continue to work with NCC on any future event. Council also resolved to cancel the environment awards (as a stand alone event) for 2013-14 given the limited available funding from both councils.
The customer services manager provided a useful report on call centre activity and building consents – including some useful tables (pp 158-159 of the agenda). Over the period from October 2013 to March 2014 the number of logged (and tracked) service requests has increased. Staff report that customers are responding favourably to the improved customer service and follow up’s that are now happening.
Natural burial grounds
The council has 12 operating cemeteries (Bainham, Collingwood, Kotinga, Fleets Road, Waimea West, Spring Grove, Foxhill, Mararewa, Murchison, Richmond, Motueka and Rototai. The last three being the main cemeteries. An average of 110 burials (and a similar amount of cremation interments) happen each year.
Natural burial’s are becoming popular (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/capital-life/9934484/Dealing-with-death-in-a-Kiwi-way). Natural burial grounds are currently available in Motueka and Rototai. Another is proposed in Spring Grove. A natural burial is typically shallower (below one metre), involving a bio-degradable casket, does not involve embalming, and is covered in native shrub planting. Information on this type of burial is available from the council’s website (see “Cemetery Standard Operating Procedures 2011” at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/services/cemeteries). Discussion was invited on undertaking a review of the the current rules.
Agenda an minutes
The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/community-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CommunityServicesCommittee/2014/2014-05-08.