|Cr Bill Faulkner
Tauranga’s so-called heritage in the form of the Historic Village and The Cargo Shed are set to cost ratepayers plenty into the future.
Council decided to basically maintain the status quo at the village with the option of a different form of administration, such as a Trust to run it. Unfortunately I had to leave the meeting prior to this item coming up, so elected members were unable to hear my pearls of wisdom. As had been noted previously, when you have a conglomeration of old buildings placed on swampy ground prone to flooding, you have an inherent and ongoing maintenance problem.
That’s how it’s been historically and that’s how it will be into the future – in my view. Compass Trust, sponsored by Mr Des Ferrow, found the going too draining (financially as well) so it’s unlikely another trust would be a goer. When I first got on council, the village was already a festering sore. I was called in by Bob Owens, in his capacity as a village donor of the tug Taioma, to referee an altercation between the city manager of the day (Mr Montacute) and Noel Nicholls and Alec Tempest. Noel and Alec weren’t jumping through the hoops set by the city manager, so we were able to arrive at an armed neutrality. Central to the issue was what was going to happen to the village and who was going to pay.
All the years in between and nothing much has changed. Prior to Compass taking over the in mid ‘90s, ratepayers were paying around $650,000 per year to keep the village going. You can double that today and all the talk about self-funding will come to naught when the maintenance, and lack of it, day of reckoning is factored in. Having read all the submissions and reports, there are two thoughts to be considered – what about the views of those who didn’t submit and at what point will ratepayers cut their losses? Sentimental attachment and self-interest seem to be the overriding factors in delaying, once again, the inevitable financial demise of the village unless there is massive ratepayer financial input at some time in the not-too-distant future.
There was an inspection by some elected members to view The Cargo Shed situation on Dive Crescent. It’s been deemed an earthquake risk. In their wisdom a majority of elected members voted once again with their hearts (and your money) and decided to spend an estimated $35,000 to brace this ‘heritage’ building. Even the Historic Places Trust, which has no monetary responsibility, is trying to get in on the act. Both ends of the building will be demolished as they are unsafe and the remaining centre part will be braced against earthquake, pending a decision sometime in the future about what the future of The Cargo Shed will be. Meantime it fetches $4100 in annual rent from Creative Tauranga. Well that’s a great economic decision, isn’t it?
One councillor said The Cargo Shed would make for a great restaurant and cafe scene. Just what Tauranga needs – more eateries! A few of us supported removing The Cargo Shed, extending the waterfront walkway along there and eventually removing the old Heatons Building and moving Dive Crescent closer to the railway line. Yes, yes I know that will cost, but it’s a 20 year plan.
Ironically elected members then moved to a ‘Value for Money’ workshop where broad principles of how council conducts its business were discussed. At long last there is a trend away from use of consultants for run of the mill work. It’s easy to see why consultants were being used. With the transparency, accountability and media scrutiny Local Government is subject to, you cover your backside by having a consultant involved. Obviously specialist consultancy advice is the exception. But if you do things ‘in-house’, there is an element of risk. You get nothing for nothing and mistakes will occur. Already an estimated $500,000 has been saved, staff told us. Should council take more risks to lower costs?
Running the Southern Pipeline straight across the harbour to Matapihi would potentially save a lot of money. Plus not having to rip up Devonport Road and ensuing traffic disruption is a huge attraction. But the ground across the harbour in that area is susceptible to liquefaction in the event of earthquake. Risk vs reward – it’s a judgement call and staff are now looking more at this element rather than going for the Rolls Royce version every time.
Submissions to the annual/three year/10 year plan have closed; 692 submissions with the Mobile Library, Soper Reserve (next to Brewers Bar on Newton Street) and Aspen Reserve downtown, being highlights for submitters. But 117,308 of you didn’t submit and those people’s interests need to be considered also. Unfortunately some elected members aren’t able to walk the walk after talking the talk about rates, sustainability, cost-cutting and asset sales, judging from their reaction around recent issues. You can’t have your cake and eat it too and this round of submissions, deliberation and decision-making will be a watershed leading into next year’s elections.
This week’s mindbender from Thomas Edison – I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.