Tagged: Waste

Full council (3 March)

A full council meeting was held on 3 March 2016. Apologies were received from Crs Edgar, Dowler and Mirfin for absence and myself for being 10 minutes late. Cr King departed halfway through the meeting.

The agenda was rather brief and included: (1) 2016-17 annual plan briefing and engagement material, (2) Regional landfill joint venture proposal, (3) December 2015 quarterly financial update, and (4) Plan Change 59 – late machinery resolution. No public forum presentations were received.

2016-17 annual plan briefing and engagement material

Council approved the release of the engagement material contained in Attachment 1 of the agenda. Overall, the budgets for the 2016-17 financial year are not significantly or materially different to those outlined in the Long Term Plan (LTP) for 2015-25. Changes that have occurred have improved council’s financial position and reduced rates income rises. Rates income rises are now 1%, well below the forecast of 2.96% in the LTP for the 2016-17 year. Capital and operational budgets and programmes remain largely unchanged from that set out in the LTP for 2015-25.

Council intends to spend $32.5 million on capital projects and $105.9 million on operational activities throughout the District during 2016-17. These figures do not include funds that may be carried over from the 2015-16 budgets.

2016-17 Annual Plan – Comparison with 2015-25 LTP

2015 LTP AP 2016-17 Var Inc/Dec
000’s 000’s
Rates increase 2016-17 2.96% 0.97% -1.99% Decrease
Net Debt 2016-17 $178,593.00 $166,423.00 -12,1700 Decrease
Net Debt Peak (in 2018-19) $197,518.00 $185,428.00 -12090 Decrease
Capital Spend 2016-17 $32,524.00 $32,550.00 26 Increase
Debt to Equity ratio 13.78% 12.74% -1.04% Decrease
Net Debt/Operating – (Limit 225%) 165.13% 155.98% -9.16% Decrease
Net Interest Expense to Annual Rates Income (up to 25%) 13.86% 13.58% -0.30% Decrease
Net Interest Expense to Revenue (Policy limit is 15%) 9.06% 8.82% -0.25% Decrease

Regional landfill joint venture proposal

In early 2014, council agreed that the optimum solution for the region’s waste was to enter into a shared services arrangement with Nelson council’s York Valley landfill (until it reached capacity in around 15 years) and to retain the Eves Valley site for future operations. Such an approach would defer substantial capital investment into Eves Valley in the short term – and reduce pressure on councils unsustainable debt position. A shared services approach also offered opportunities for scale efficiencies and reduced operational costs for both councils.

In August 2014, the two Councils signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU outlined a “contract-for-service” approach, where Nelson City Council would own and operate York Valley and TDC would pay commercial disposal fees, but receive an annual lump sum and a share of the operating surplus of the landfill. In December 2014, following public consultation by Nelson council, the councils considered a modified MoU and in April 2015 the MoU was signed by the councils.

Unfortunately agreement was not reached on the “contract for service” approach due to differing interpretations of the service contract. In order to avoid the proposal being derailed, council pursued a joint venture approach, using an NRSBU model of governance. One familiar with both councils. Under this revised joint venture approach, a valuation of each councils assets was required. The Deloitte valuation report (at page 49) and peer review by Morrison Law (at page 73) was attached to the agenda. The reports concluded that if both councils were to make an equal contribution to the joint venture, TDC would have to top-up the arrangement by paying Nelson council $4.2 million.

Council resolved to enter into a joint venture with Nelson council to start on 1 July 2017, with a one-off top-up payment of $4.2 million.

December 2015 quarterly financial update

The report sets out council’s financial performance and position for the 6 months ended 31 December 2015, as well as a re-forecast to the end of the current financial year. The report forecasted a year-end operating surplus of $2.852 million.

Year End Forecast Revised Budget Variance
Accounting Surplus/(Deficit) $9.16 M $5.67 M $3.49 M Favourable
Operating Surplus/(Deficit) $1.674 M -$1.178 M $2.852 M Favourable
Total Net Debt $155.2 M $173.63 M -$20.427 M Favourable
Expenditure $99.79 M $101.63 M -$1.84 M Favourable
Income $108.95 M $107.3 M $1.65 M Favourable
Capital Expenditure $45.34 M $50.4 M -$5.07 M

The positive result is compared against the revised budget, which is a total of year 1 (2015-16) of the LTP 2015-25, plus carry overs from 2014-15, approved as part of the 10 September 2015 carry over report to council.

Staff anticipated that approximately $5 million will be carried forward into the 2016-17 financial year for capital projects that have not been able to progress this financial year (2015-16). Staff also advised that that the $4.2 million payable to Nelson City Council on 1 July 2017 for the difference in the price for the landfill joint venture would affect the net debt figure (ie $159.4 million, being $155.2 million + $4.2 million).

During the general debate, questions were also asked about overspending on the Mapua development. Staff were unable to provide any figures, but advised that the overspend would be reported in full to the next commercial sub-committee meeting (on 24 June 2016).

Increased building coverage

Plan Change 59 allowed for increased building coverage in the residential zone in Richmond, Motueka, Wakefield and Brightwater. It was notified on 28 November 2015 and submissions closed on 2 February 2016. No submissions were received. I have expressed my opinion on building coverage in earlier posts (see greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/environment-and-planning-committee-meeting-8-october/ and greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/high-density-housing-a-sensible-approach/).

Council resolved to approve Plan Change 59 to commence as an operative change from 12 March 2016.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2016/2016-03-03.

Engineering services meeting (5 November 2015)

The engineering services meeting was held on 5 November 2015. Apologies were received from Cr Canton, Higgins, and Edgar (with the mayor arriving late). All other councillors were present.

The agenda included: (1) chair’s report, (2) Wakefield development water development contribution, and (3) engineering activity report. A late in-committee (confidential) report was also received in relation to shared landfill services (York valley). There were two items in public forum.

Given the agenda was somewhat brief, I decided to ask a number of questions throughout the meeting. Much to the frustration of the chair (Cr Norris).

Public forum

Graeme Thomas, speaking on behalf of Richard Martin (property developer), spoke about his clients concerns with the Ben Nevis development in Wakefield. He raised a number of concerns that I will discuss below. He asked that the land be excluded from the contributions, or the development contribution be deferred until connection.

Martin Barlow spoke on behalf of the Mapua Boat Club. He raised concerns about the restricted access to the Mapua boat ramp. He thought the mayor had supported a range of solutions the club had offered. Yet none appear to have been implemented? Without access, they would be the only boat club in NZ without a boat ramp. They acknowledged the tension with health and safety issues (regarding public walking in the area vs cars and boats), but wanted a solution for the summer period.

Chair’s report

The brief report (a page of text) mentioned the pending draft speed bylaw review and the relationship with the NZTA’s speed management guide. Staff advised that the NZTA guide would have little impact on the review.

The report also mentioned joint land development manual initiative between Nelson and Tasman councils. This is an important initiative for ensuring the two councils better align. I asked the chair if a little more detail could be provided around the joint land development manual given its importance – perhaps including an update on progress, topics covered, or tension points. The chair refused, becoming very upset with my request. As I expected he would. However, I think its important council are kept abreast of developments rather than wait for a staff report at the end of the process. Its about being kept informed, so we can keep our residents informed.

Finally, my family want to share their sincere condolences with the family and friends of Paul Bennett (skipper), Jared Reese (Timaru), and Terry Donald Booth (Ruby Bay), who lost their lives at sea off the Canterbury coast on the FV Jubilee. Coming from a fishing family we are very aware of the risks of this type of work (as were they). These were three very experienced fishermen who were well known in their community. They will be missed.

FisherMemorial

Wakefield development water development contribution

This issue was discussed in public forum. Essentially, it concerned the charging of a water development contributions on a property development (known as Ben Nevis) comprising 100 lots located in the Wakefield area. The developer has been responsible for other property developments bordering this development.

The developer is installing “dry” pipes (for a future water reticulation system) as the development progresses. An extension of the reticulated water supply is planned to service this land in 2021-24 (according to the 2015 Long Term Plan (LTP). This was illustrated in one of the maps enclosed in the LTP set of documents. Until the site is reticulated, the developer is required to provide for on-site water collection, storage and treatment (as a condition of the developments approval). Generally, payment of development contributions is due when the development plans are approved. The contributions are a partial contribution to the cost of planned water infrastructure.

The developer raised two main issues (notification failure and a double up of water costs) to support his request for the development contribution to be deferred until connection.

Notification failure

The applicant argued that the council failed to notify the developer of any development contribution liability. He was unable to find any public notification or any information in the LTP. He also noted that an earlier adjacent development had not been subject to any contributions. Given his pre-existing relationship with council in relation to an earlier adjacent development, he thought he should have been advised of a change.

In response staff, acknowledged and apologised for failing to inform the developer of the plan change that created a new liability for development contributions. The issue would be addressed so that it would not happen again. However, the plan change (and corresponding development contribution) had been notified through the LTP process and therefore it was legally enforceable.

In response to questions raised during public forum, I asked staff to inform the developer of the location of the relevant plan changes in the LTP. Which staff confirmed they would do.

Cost double up

The applicant argued that the imposition of development contributions, as well as requiring the developer to provide an on-site water supply, placed a heavy financial burden on the developer, making it uneconomic to continue to lay dry pipes. This would mean that the council would have to dig up the road at a future date and lay pipes for the future water reticulation system. Again a way forward was to defer the imposition of development levies until the planned reticulation system was connected sometime in 2021-24.

This would mean that liability for the development contribution would lay with the property owner at the time of connection. However, owners could still opt not to connect. If an owner choose not to connect they would still be liable for the daily water charges (ie pipe maintenance costs), but not the water charges (as they would not be receiving water).

Decision

Council unanimously agreed that the development contribution would be imposed on connection. In my opinion, deferring the imposition of development contributions was the most pragmatic solution. This enabled the development to continue and for council to receive development contributions for infrastructure.

Engineering activity report

The manager’s report contained the following highlights:

  • Financials: I asked two questions. First, if the over spend in the transportation budget (ie operating expenses) was a timing issue (or not). Staff confirmed it was a timing issue. Second, if the financials could provide a similar level of analysis contained in the environment and planing (E&P) reports. The E&P reports provided detailed analysis of staff and contractor costs. Whereas, engineering did not. The question was put to other councillors. Unfortunately, I received no support from other councillors for more detailed analysis.
  • Health and safety: MWH and TDC managers are developing a safety training workshop for constructions site visits. Cr Mirfin questioned (rather rhetorically) whether this was at all necessary and wondered whether it bordered on over-kill. Especially as there had been no incidents to date in relation to on-site visits? Unfortunately the HSE Act imposes a number of obligations on council. Failure to show we have provided sufficient H&S training could expose council to potential liability should an incident occur. Effectively, training is a form of insurance against potential liability.
  • Parking strategy: A consultant (traffic design group) has been contracted to conduct dta collection and aid in development of a parking strategy. A final draft report has been presented to staff and a workshop for councillors is planned for early 2016. Public consultation is expected around March 2016. I will be watching this with interest. In my opinion, we need to be ensuring new commercial developments are providing more car parks (including under or within the development itself), as well as utilising areas on the fringes of the CBD, rather than widening roads for parking (at cot to the ratepayers). For example, Club Waimea have a large carpark that is under utilised throughout the day. Enabling them to promote a fee based carpark service would take the pressure off parking in other parts of Richmond. A similar arrangement could be developed as an income stream for A&P Society land. These areas could also be supported by a connecting bus service.
  • Digital systems (Confirm and Tardis): The “confirm” (asset) database has been altered to make it easier to operate (including a shift from printed reports to PDF reports). The “tracking and reporting of development information system” (TARDIS) is a web based multi-purpose relational database. It was developed in-house and is used for tracking subdivision and planning documents and was introduced to the resource consents team as a collaborative development. I asked that staff liaise with Nelson council when these opportunities arise in order to share and leverage technology. We should be aiming to align the same systems and processes in both councils to maximise cost savings and efficiency gains. There is no point reinventing the wheel.
  • New Richmond South developments: A request to relocate a storm water designation in Richmond South was received. I asked what this meant. Staff advised the request sought to divert storm water further south (along the bottom of the hill crest, parrallel to Harts Road). Land either side of Patons Road and Bateup Road has had its deferrment lifted, allowing development of 250 sections over the next couple of years. At the same time Bateup Road is being investigated for road improvements (for increased traffic), including under-grounding stormwater and road widening. I suggested to staff that any road improvements should give serious consideration to secondary flow paths (similar to the proposed inversion of Queen Street) as the Paton\Bateup Road was one of the 5 flooding hotspots in the 2011 and 2013 floods.
  • Fairise Drive development: Around 20 lots are nearing completion at the end of Fairise Drive. A new pedestrian connection will be provided from Hill Street into the new cul-de-sac. Lots adjoining Hill Street will direct storm water into Harts creek. Storm water from other lots in this development are to be piped via a detention pond. I asked staff (after the meeting) to provide me a detailed briefing so that I could keep downstream residents informed of planned developments.
  • Hill Street and Harts Road development: A proposed 33 lot development at the corner of these roads has been lodged with council for consideration.
  • Mapua water network: Major breaks on the Mapua water network have recently occurred. Staff are investigating and will be making a recommendation on the likely timing of an upgrade. Most likely bringing forward the planned upgrade in the LTP.
  • Waste: Recycling volumes continue to grow (23% up on the July to September period last year). This means less pressure on landfill. Landfill operations have focused on excavating cover material from on-site, and developing the next cell for refuse. Landfill volumes (for July to September) were 2% above budget.
  • LED lights: A total of 512 of 2400 lights (21%) have been converted to date.
  • School speed zones: 40km\hr advisory speed signs will be installed at 29 (of 36) schools. Priority will be given to 11 schools (Ranzau, Hope, Dovedale, Motueka Rudolf Steiner, Ngatimoti, Lower Moutere, Motupipi, Centrl Takaka, Brooklyn, Mapua, and Mahana) who either have no crossroads, are near high speed areas, and have no parking to drop children off. The other 7 schools are either on state highways (NZTA responsibility) or urban environments (low speed areas) where additional signage might be considered a hindrance to visibility. NZTA will be investigating use of 40km\hr signs for schools on state highways.
  • Rivers: Increased fly tipping (rubbish dumping) has been observed near the Waimea. River tracks between Appleby bridge and lower Queen Street may have to be closed (after the white bait season ends) to mitigate the increase.

I also asked for an update on the interim lower Moutere speed signage (discussed at the last meeting in relation to proposed footpaths). Staff advised that the speed signage had experienced a few glitches in providing data on road usage. It was hoped this would be available for the next meeting.

I also passed on an observation from a resident that the traffic lights in gladstone road were not sympathetic to motorcycles – and that this meant sometimes cycles had to run a red light to get across the road.

Unfortunately, the chair (Cr Norris) became quite upset with me asking so many questions during consideration of this report. He suggested that rather than ask questions in public, I should direct them to staff after the meeting. I disagreed and was not going to be intimidated by his bullying tactics. In my opinion, it was important questions were asked in public, so they could be minuted. Furthermore, preventing questions being asked, undermined the need for the meeting in the first place. I certainly do not consider my presence at council meetings to be a rubber stamping (or attendance) exercise.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/.

 

Engineering services committee (24 September)

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

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

Chairs report

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

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

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

Activity management plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richmond central business district – storm water plan

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

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

CBDFloodModel-Base1

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

I will briefly outline all three options.

Option 1 (Beach road)

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

CBDFloodModel-Opt1

Option 2 (Racecourse drain)

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

CBDFloodModel-Opt2

Option 3 (Oxford street pressured pipe system)

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

CBDFloodModel-Opt3

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

CBDFloodModel-Solu1

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

Activity update

Highlights from the engineering manager’s report include:

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

KerbsideRecyling2015Sep

Agenda and minutes

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

Water, Waste and World War One

First steps towards the Waimea Community Dam (also known as the Lee Valley Dam)

Resource consents are now being sought to allow the construction, operation and maintenance of a dam and associated infrastructure on the Lee River in Tasman District, as part of the Waimea Water Augmentation Project. This is the first step towards allowing a dam and provides the legal framework for a dam option. The closing date for submissions are 15 August.  See http://www.tasman.govt.nz/property/resource-consents/notified-resource-consent-applications/applications-open-for-submissions/waimea-community-dam-lee-valley/

An interesting policy initiative from Labour also materialised last week. Does this mean central govt funding for a dam is now on the agenda? Does this mean that Tasman and Nelson voters should now be voting for Labour to overcome the elephant in the room around the dam proposal – funding?

Obviously the devil will be in the detail and the leader of the Labour party, David Cunliffe, indicated that any long term investment would require some “skin in the game” as well as a sound economic proposal. However, the Waimea Community Dam would appear to clearly meet both criteria. See http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10295617/Regional-development-key-election-issuehttp://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/10292727/PM-dismisses-Labours-slush-fundhttp://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/10295790/Key-v-Cunliffe-Battle-of-the-soundbites.

Regional landfill waste

Another positive step towards shared services between Nelson and Tasman was agreed last week – with the aim of cost savings and efficient use of resources for both councils. A win-win for the ratepayers of both councils.

Last week the Works and Infrastructure Committee of Nelson City agreed in principle to accept all Tasman District waste from 1 July 2015, to share operating surpluses and to publically consult on this proposal. Tasman council consulted on the proposal in March 2014, through the 2014 draft Annual Plan. Nelson council are now going through the consultation phase. See http://nelson.govt.nz/council/consultations/open-consultations/regional-landfill/.

Museum news

The Nelson Tasman WW1 Service Database, which lists the names of men and women from the region who served in WW1, was officially launched at a ceremony held at the Museum on 23 April. The database is the result of the work by local researchers Coralie Smith, Cheryl and Mike Carnahan, Eileen Thawley, Syd Daughtrey and Pat O’Shea. The database includes the names of nurses, soldiers, padres, and those men and women who served with the Australian forces, the Royal Navy and the flying services of England.

To view the database online and for more information on the WW100 commemoration of the First World War visit www.nelsonmuseum.co.nz/ww100.

Engineering Services Committee (3 April)

The engineering services committee meeting was held on 3 April 2014. Apologies were received from Crs Bryant, King, Norriss and myself.

The meeting received a number of staff update reports (not requiring decisions) on the following topics: (1) the great taste trail, (2) the proposed Takaka wastewater treatment plant upgrade, (3) erosion risk in Pukekoikoi, and (4) flooding issues near Neds creek in Murchison. The engineering services manager also provide a brief update on the engineering team’s recent activities.

The Tasman Cycle Trail (aka the Great Taste Trail)

In 2010 the Council decided to provide capital funding for the construction a 175 km cycle trail – known as the Tasman Great Taste Trail (the Tasman cycle trail). The project was broken up into different stages. Stage 1 comprises Richmond to Wakefield, and Richmond to Kaiteriteri (via Motueka) – a total distance of 76.6 km. Stage 2 will be from Wakefield (via Tapawera) to Riwaka – a total distance of 98 km. Stage 1 (Wakefield to Richmond to Kaiteriteri) has now been substantially completed. A useful map of the entire trail is provided in the agenda (pp 14 to 23).

With any capital investment comes maintenance costs, which are the responsibility of ratepayers (summarised in the table below). This year’s maintenance cost for the trail is $83,000. It is estimated that between $177,000 to $191,000 will be required annually for maintenance once the entire 174.6km trail is complete.

Tasman Cycle Trail Distance Maintenance costs Maintenance cost per km
Stage 1 (completed)
Trust managed trail (council grant funded) 33.6 km $63,000.00 $1,875.00
Shared paths 16 km $8,000.00 $500.00
Roads 15.5 km Nil Nil
Reserves 11.5 km $12,000.00 $1,043.00
Total 76.6 km $83,000.00 $1,083.00
Stage 2 (to be completed)
Trust managed trail (council grant funded) 58 km $94,000 to $108,750 $1,620 to $1,875
Roads 40 km Nil Nil
Total 98 km $94,000 – $108,750 $1,620 to $1,875

 

What is clear from the above table, is the hidden costs associated with extending the cycle trail. In particular the annual maintenance costs of any extension. The question that the community need to consider (and in particular those who live in Wakefield who want an extension) is whether the cost of maintaining any extension will provide a sufficient increase in income to afford the corresponding increase in targeted rates required to sustain the cycle ways upkeep. Further, any funding decisions will have to weigh up the competing importance of other projects (for example, storm water projects required to protect peoples homes and enable commercial and residential development).

If council is to commit to any extension of the cycle trail it will invariably have to commit to some form of investment in tourism if it is to ensure the community are able to get the necessary increase in income to pay the corresponding increase in rates. The alternative is to not proceed with any extensions until we can truly afford them.

Takaka Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade

Staff sought approval to develop construction drawings and specifications for an open market tender for the upgrade solution for the Takaka wastewater treatment plant. The total estimated cost of the work is $3.7 million and the work would be undertaken in a 6 stage approach to control budget risk. The upgrade would include constructing a floating wetlands, thus reducing the need for major civil works.

This is a substantial capital investment for Takaka and one residents of Takaka need to acknowledge is more important than any new recreation centre. Hard choices need to be made and council have to balance capital investment around the district. A danger is council over capitalise its investment in an area that does not have a lot of projected growth. The current economic environment requires that we be much wiser with where we spend our money. If we are prepared to sweat our roads, then surely the community should be willing to sweat the nice to have investments like recreation facilities. While I appreciate promises have been made by the past council, this council has to operate within a new economic reality (one perhaps the former council was not prepared to operate within) and prioritise expenditure. This means infrastructural expenditure must always come ahead of nice to have expenditure like recreational facilities. Its just common sense.

Pukekoikoi – Erosion Risk

The purpose of the report was to provide an update on the risk of a possible failure to a small section of the cut batter adjoining the Pa reserve site at Pukekoikoi caused by erosion. Staff advised that any failure would be limited and isolated, but that the risk did exist. Staff proposed to build a small clay bund directly onto the underlying clay soil re- covered with topsoil.

Murchison Stormwater – Neds Creek

Staff outlined flooding issues adjacent to Neds Creek, Murchison, potential solutions, indicative costs and proposed actions. A number of solutions were outlined. The recommended solution involved three stages of work at a cost of $2.9 million (excluding any land purchase). A final decision would be required as part of the forthcoming 2015-2025 Long Term Plan (LTP) storm water activity management plan.

Utilities Update

Staff reported that the overall stormwater network had been well maintained in February and that regular stormwater inspections had ensured adequate targeted clearence of debris prior to any forecasted heavy rain events. However, I note that the stormwater pipes (and ditches) along Bateups Road still require some attention.

Staff also reported on the waste collection and the impact on Eves valley landfill. The landfill will require further council consideration as it nears capacity (and the end of its useful life). Some useful tables and graphs on waste and landfill capacity are included in the agenda (pp 69 to 70).

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2014/3April2014.