Joyce stands for Western Bay Mayor, seeks change in council’s direction
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
Local business owner Rodney Joyce has put his name forward to become Mayor of the Western Bay District Council, standing on a platform of lower rates and greatly increased transparency at the council.
“Almost everyone that I speak to in the district is unhappy with the very high, and continually rising, rates burden and are frustrated that their concerns are not being listened to,” says Joyce, who is also standing for election to the Katikati-Waihī Beach district council ward.
“When I looked around the candidates standing for Mayor of Western Bay, I saw largely a continuation of current policies. I did not see anyone addressing the biggest issue for residents and ratepayers over the next ten years – our sky-high and (still) rising rates burden.”
Even a modest home in the Western Bay now attracts rates of $60-$70 a week, ranking Western Bay’s residential rates consistently among the highest in the country.
Joyce believes further big increases are ahead, unless real change is made at the council.
“Our council is on the road to even higher rates as it comes up with more and more plans to spend money, despite its current budget already being squeezed tight by rapidly rising construction costs, higher general inflation and rising interest rates.
“Something is going to have to give and that means the next mayor and council will have to either rein in council’s grandiose spending plans or push rates much higher to cover all its dream projects and the extra staff needed to build them.”
The council’s annual plan shows it plans to borrow a massive $56.5 million this financial year. To put that in perspective, that one year’s worth of gross borrowing is equal to about 60% of the council’s rates income.
“On its present trajectory, council will soon be shelling out over $12 million a year in loan interest, at current interest rates (with further interest rate rises forecast to come).
“That is enough to build two libraries a year but, if it sticks to its current strategic plan, the council will be too busy paying off debt to be able to invest much in any new community assets.”
Why is Joyce so obsessed with the numbers? He was a financial journalist/editor for Reuters, the international news agency, for 18 years. He came back to New Zealand six years ago and purchased a wholesale business in Katikati.
“My partner and I love it here. We are regulars on the beach at Waihi and we’ve put down roots,” he said. A new baby was born last year.
Joyce was born in Taranaki but his family links in the Western Bay go back around 80 years, including Christmas holidays visiting family in rural Katikati and Te Puke.
With a background of more than 30 years in journalism and management, Joyce is a firm believer in transparency in council matters. As a journalist, he has reported on councils in Auckland, Wellington, Hawkes Bay and Taranaki.
“One thing that has changed in recent years is that more and more council business is conducted behind closed doors at “workshops” that the public are not even told are going on,” Joyce says.
“We need much more openness to the public both in council discussions and also in the way it carries out public consultation – which many residents believe is currently geared to pre-determined results.”