WorkBoot Blogs » The Rates Debate Ignites
There are many highly experienced and talented businesspeople and professionals with interests in Kaipara. They often offer their advice or assistance to the Council in the best interests of the district and its communities - they genuinely want to help make Kaipara a great (and affordable) place to live and work, and have a vested interest in doing so.
What has never ceased to amaze me is Council's consistent refusal to engage with these people and benefit from their experience and expertise.
With the draft Long Term Plan's 31% average rates increase notified yesterday, public debate is starting to heat up. The interview with the Mayor on Close Up last night (here) has kicked off the discussion on the Dargaville Facebook page (here).
Comment in this morning from a concerned ratepayer certainly provides suggestions of other alternatives -
"On TV last night Mayor Tiller said that he was not going to stand for Mayor again, that 12 years was long enough in local government.
Hopefully this will allow a new leader to emerge that will not have past baggage.
I have neither the time nor the expertise to follow my thoughts, but I do read about Councils defaulting (in USA anyway).
A new Mayor who was responsive to ratepayers must first make deep cuts to expenditure, not a cent on nice to have (new road sealing, tons of RMA and other staff and head office overhead , massive consultants fees pushing a particular barrow that KDC staff prefer, for example) and a rigorous audit of essential expenditure.
Privatising some assets should not be off the table....sell ECOCARE...properly run it is a great infrastructure investment with a certain cash flow...so it’s value becomes a return calculation.
What other infrastructure assets are available for sale....don’t know. Swimming pool ? Spare land ?
Next, I would negotiate a haircut with the banks and those who have lent to Council. Greece can do it...presumably so can KDC. Greece had it’s borrowing secured by the ability to tax, KDC by the ability to rate....somebody must be able to find a way.
The debt has to be contained, and at a sustainable level.
I would offer 50c in the dollar, extended term and fixed low interest.....or default (Possible? Don’t know)
A rates rise of the magnitude floated in the LTP is not an option.
The plan must be to have rates rises no bigger than inflation, and be debt free in say 40 years. The amortisation plan for the reduced “haircut” debt must be affordable and guaranteed.
Councils first priority must be to comply with the law in the cheapest possible manner, second priority debt reduction.
Finally, I am staggered by council staff attitude, where they dismiss out of hand an alternate point of view, and only under the weight of mediation see some sense in another (expert) view point.
The recent District Plan proposals are a case in point.
The next month of submissions and hearings on the LTP will be a test. Will the Council pay lip service to consultation and carry on through a predetermined process, or will it finally start listening to the ratepayers and accept their help and advice?