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Karori residents concerned about major spending in annual plan

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The Karori Residents’ Association has voiced concern to the Wellington City Council about expenditure in the annual plan. The association says the council should be targeting relief and recovery rather than pest control and cycleways. Here is a letter which the KRA has sent to the mayor and all city councillors:

Andy: We understand the annual ‘Central Government – Local Government Forum’ is this Thursday, involving ministers and mayors, and senior officials. Can you discuss whether councils are unduly constrained from reconsidering major spending decisions in their Annual Plans please?

We are concerned with the ‘business as usual’ attitude WCC is showing towards major spending areas during the largest economic crisis in a century. Page 9 of the Annual Plan consultation says WCC has no intention of reconsidering major spending until the next Long Term Plan. You must be the only kind of organisation in the country, if not the world, not reconsidering major spending decisions at this critical time!

Andy, you said in Saturday’s webinar (which went well thanks) that “special consultation requirements” make this “not possible now”. What are these? Are they legislative?

We note that the public consultation sections of the Local Government Act 2002 (82 and 82A) give WCC the ability consult expediently if in a crisis, and the Annual Plan sections (95 and 95A) let you make major changes to the Long Term Plan. We understand the Office of the Auditor General has given councils more flexible time frames to issue Annual Plans. Further, section 77 requires councils to identify all relevant doable options and to consider the pros and cons — reconsidering major expenditures is relevant and doable.

Do you think special legislation is required to enable WCC to reprioritise major spending decisions? Have you asked for that from Central Government? Have you canvassed how other councils are addressing major reprioritisation? This week’s forum is a perfect opportunity for you to do so.

17 comments:

  1. Patrick Morgan, Cycling Action Network, 25. May 2020, 12:36

    “The association says the council should be targeting relief and recovery rather than pest control and cycleways.” Where does KRA say this?

     
  2. Rohan Biggs, 25. May 2020, 13:11

    Bravo KRA

     
  3. Diane Calvert, 25. May 2020, 13:13

    Karori Residents are echoing what many are saying around the city. This should be a relief & recovery budget & not a continuous ‘nice to have’. This is about saving & spending where it really matters. [via twitter]

     
  4. michael, 25. May 2020, 13:16

    Unlike other councils around NZ, WCC seems fixated on the premise it is going to be “business as usual” post-covid, which is really concerning for ratepayers who will bear the brunt of their lack of foresight.

     
  5. wendy, 25. May 2020, 13:23

    Diane thank you for your comment, but why are all councillors not concerned about the direction WCC is going? Do they really believe it is going to be business as usual?

     
  6. KRA, 25. May 2020, 13:32

    Patrick we said that in our communication with scoop.

     
  7. Diane Calvert, 25. May 2020, 14:09

    Wendy – some of us have raised concerns about it being a BAU budget. We wanted to take a good look at where the spending was going but we did not get majority support. The first public draft was at 4.95% average rates rise. After debate a majority voted for additional initiatives taking it to 5.1%. Who knows what will happen when the final draft is debated.

    This is not about taking an austerity approach (which some like to label it in an attempt to deflect) but to ensure our borrowings are minimised and we focus on the things that will really matter to keep people’s heads above water. Any talk of ‘rebuild’ should be in the long term plan debate coming up over the next 6-8 mths.

    Other Councils are taking a close look at their planned budget and I believe there is scope for the Wellington City Council to do much more.

     
  8. Matt Shipman, 25. May 2020, 15:01

    A few cycleways through Karori might at least partially relieve the morning and evening parking lot style commute! Cycle lanes are not “nice to haves”, they are an integral part of a functional roading environment in busy cities. Pest control is also incredibly important and the success so far has made Karori and Highbury pretty damn special in recent years.

     
  9. Clod hoppers, 25. May 2020, 15:36

    Cycle lanes are a ‘nice to have’ when there is already a perfectly good road that can be used for cycling.

     
  10. KRA, 25. May 2020, 15:36

    Matt we’re not saying they’re not important but lives are at stake, there has been a national state of emergency which is much more important than saving old man’s beard this year!

     
  11. Diane Calvert, 25. May 2020, 15:56

    Matt – Myself and Simon Woolf put up the idea of a city bound bus/ cycle lane in the morning for Karori but it was not able to be included.
    Unfortunately the first tranche of such projects did not come from local councillors or the communities that they were in so we could have had a say early on. They were instead driven by lobby groups. Now it looks like there are no resources left. Local communities need to have a stronger voice.

     
  12. ICW, 25. May 2020, 16:58

    ICW is also concerned with council’s attitude of ‘business as usual’ and also questions why WCC has no intention of reconsidering major spending until the next Long Term Plan.

     
  13. ICW, 25. May 2020, 17:35

    @ Diane Calvert: ICW is interested in your comment that local communities need to have a stronger voice. It is not for want of trying. In the ‘ICW Democratic Resilience Project Case Study on WCC Consultation’ recently sent to all councillors, we requested they not only address the serious issues highlighted in the case study, but also commit to greater resourcing, recognition, and support for suburban-based progressive associations. To date we have received acknowledgement and support from only two councillors.

     
  14. Christiana, 25. May 2020, 22:26

    2020 is not a business as usual year. Not addressing recovery from the pandemic is a high social and economic risk. There is a pay off in prioritising this. The economic ones are self explanatory, but addressing health and social inequalities also reaps benefits – not only in the quality of life for everyone for longer term healthcare and rates of social exclusion. Social isolation was creeping up the list of global health concerns before the crisis. Food insecurity is a reality for many of our neighbours everyday and the number is growing. Individual and community resilience in a city like Wellington should always be a priority.

     
  15. cool_popsicle, 25. May 2020, 23:00

    We should be encouraging cycleways, especially as we need transport alternatives.

     
  16. Ani, 26. May 2020, 8:13

    I really want some more cycleways through Karori and some pest control. I currently feel hugely unsafe cycling, but it would seem much safer than public transport in a pandemic. Pest control gives quick useful jobs with fantastic outcomes when tourism starts up again. Supporting Matt

     
  17. Leith Wallace, 27. May 2020, 22:02

    Pest control is really important. Look how we are all celebrating the numbers of birds in our gardens. See the news report about at least five kiwis killed by predators at the Mt Bruce sanctuary north of Masterton because traps were not checked during lockdown. If it’s not kept up we’ll go back twenty years.