Merry Christmas and Thank You
Merry Christmas and thank you to the many voters who put their trust in me to represent them at the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.
Since I started looking into council finances a few years ago it has been a fascinating journey. My goal throughout is to ensure that the council is a responsible custodian of your rates money. Our rates are very high and I still can see no reason why the council needs to push debt (and thus interest costs) so high as well.
In standing for council, I had three goals:
1) Raise with voters the financial issues and highlight the need for more transparency and humility in council’s dealings with residents;
2) Get on council to pursue these goals;
3) Win the mayoralty as this position is best placed to achieve these goals.
Well, I fell far short of No.3 but two out of three aint bad, as the late Meatloaf used to sing.
Yes, I have been more quiet online than previously. That is due to both now working inside the organisation and also my need to get myself up the learning curve to make sure I deliver the best I can for our ratepayers and residents.
I have learnt a lot in the past couple of months and still have a lot to learn but clearly the issues that I took into council are still there (especially the financial pressure, which all councils face around the country).
My early reading of our current group of councillors is that they intend to serve the community and not get pushed around by the policy imperatives of others.
This shows in our first big policy change of the new term – a decision in principle to join the Communities for Local Democracy (C4LD). This is the large group of councils that oppose the government’s Three Waters so-called reforms and are working to find alternatives.
At our council, the vote in principle to sign a mayoral declaration opposing Three Waters (in their current form) was approved without dissent and only one voice was heard against joining C4LD.
That is a big change from previously, when membership of C4LD was rejected on the casting vote of the then mayor.
Our current government has a great belief in centralised bureaucracy (eg polytechs, health, 3 Waters) so I expect we will face a fight to keep the local in local government over the next few years. But I believe this council is up for the challenge.
Bigger is not always better. The example of our one current super city council in Auckland is not inspiring, given that average resident rates there have zoomed past our sky-high rates in recent years to become the highest in the country.
I hope you enjoy a restful break over the holiday period and I promise you I will continue to work hard to serve you in 2023.