Community Outlook: 19-11-23
I’ll open by stating that I am very disappointed with our Community Board!
The “Direction-setting for Long Term Plan” Community Board meeting was held on the 7th of November. The meeting lasted approximately 35 minutes (the shortest meeting for the year). During this meeting, the Community Board approved a proposed 23% rate rise for the Community Board portion of our rates for the next rating period. There was no deliberation or consideration of the effect these continual LARGE rate rises are having on many members of our community at this meeting. I have heard of some members of the community being brought to tears over their struggle to pay their rates and afford to meet day-to-day living expenses.
With the erosion occurring at Bluecliffs Beach Road, recent details surfacing of the requirement for some $12 Million remedial work on old Landfill sites across Southland, and Council’s spending exceeding its budget by $21 Million, I can only guess that the Council portion of next year’s rates will also increase significantly.
Only 4 Community Board members were present at the meeting (3 were ABSENT). Looking back at attendance by members for the year, I’m very disheartened that one member has only attended 3 Community Board meetings for the entire year.
Two submissions by community members, related to the Tuatapere Te Waewae Community Board Long Term Plan project list, were not deliberated on at all during this meeting. One of the submissions included a suggestion that could help reduce mowing costs in our area, but it was not even acknowledged at the meeting.
The reason for the 23% rate rise is attributed mainly to playground maintenance costs, hedge and tree maintenance, and mowing (large increase in mowing costs at Monowai). However, there has been a general rise in most costs, and ongoing maintenance of all the Halls in the area is a constant drain on funds. I have asked Council for some clarification on spending in these areas and will report back if I get more details. I cannot fathom why Monowai mowing costs will be almost the same as Tuatapere, considering the population and area differences.
A Cautionary Note to the Community:
The Community Board is allocating Rating Reserve funds to doing something with the Railway Building. Just what that is, I still have no idea. It has never been discussed during Community Board meetings. No decision has ever been made by the Community Board on the “Tuatapere Revitalisation Project”. The Community Board has allocated $158,558 from the Rating Reserve to the “Tuatapere Historic Railway Station“. This amount is in addition to the $310,000 obtained by Council, from the Governments “Better Off Funding” support package in 2022. This appears, to me, to be happening without the consent, and out of view, of the community.
Results from previous surveys of the community in relation to the Railway Building, I believe, were clear. The Community did not want the Community Board to be in control of the Railway Building (preference was for a Trust). The Community did not want rates to fund the restoration or ongoing maintenance of the building.
The proposed $158,558, if spent, will increase rates significantly at some point. Some $30,000 of rated money has already been spent/allocated towards these projects ($20,000 for consulting, $10,000 for “repairs“). The Community Board had agreed to establish a Trust to decide the direction of this project – this has NOT occurred.
A question I have previously asked of the Community Board remains unanswered: what benefits to the community does spending over $500,000 on the railway building, provide?
This building was “restored” by a volunteer (Colin Brown) some 12 years ago, and then left, by the Community Board, to go to rack and ruin, only to have large amounts of money needed to be spent on it, once again. This is a drain that community rate payers cannot afford now or into the future!
A parting question to consider:
Is our Community Board and Council representing community wishes?
Next Community Board meeting: Tuesday 5 December @ 3:30pm at 30 Oldham Street, Orepuki.