|Cr Bill Faulkner
For those ratepayers who have been confounded by council’s tree bylaws, relief is now at hand.
Some nine or 10 years ago staff drove around town selecting significant trees for council protection, regardless of who owned them. They then placed some 1800 or 1900 trees on a protection register. Of course it was all done legally but there were many ratepayers who missed these legal niceties and the first they knew about this ‘protection’ was when they tried to do anything with their tree and were denied.
You could of course cough up $750 deposit for a resource consent application to trim or cut it down. Your own tree! This is the stuff of dictatorship. So some of us set about dismantling this anarchy and it’s taken some five years. There are still about 300 trees on the register and most of them are council owned. In my opinion, if a privately owned tree is protected for public benefit then the onus and cost of tree management should lie with those doing the protection.
In this case that means ratepayers/council. Costs should be allocated to this activity and ratepayers can then judge the worth of this protection. It’s certainly not the private tree owner’s responsibility to be dictated to by council.
Historically tree protection was a wheelbarrow being pushed by tree huggers and those with socialist leanings. This resulted in intrusion into some people’s rights and caused significant unnecessary grief and expense. So if you are one of those awaiting protected tree relief, phone City Hall’s James Danby for advice on whether your tree is off the list.
Leigh Auton is now officially Tauranga’s new CEO. Leigh’s salary is a complete package of $340,000. That is, no add-ons, like car, super, etc. That amount can be considered either an investment or cost. Leigh says the tasks we have set for him (Key Performance Indicators or KPIs in techno-speak) should take between eight to 12 months. In the course of this Leigh will also assist council in the appointment of a new CEO for the long term.
I had a one-on-one meeting with Leigh and there are some interesting times ahead as he presents issues and options to the elected council to take Tauranga forward. Council has already discussed more sharing of service with Western Bay. The prospect of developing on the success of bulk buying through the BOP Local Authority Shared Services (BOPLASS) into policy and regulatory matters is an obvious step forward. Amalgamation of many services whilst leaving the political wings alone is a sensible proposition to begin with. We didn’t get the savings that were promised in the last political amalgamation between Tauranga, Mount and Papamoa and Auckland’s Super City, contrary to Mayor Len Brown’s claims, has solved few problems and created many more in my view. And pollies, in many cases justifiably, are notorious in protecting their patch.
From my experience, shifting an urban politician onto rural matters can be counter-productive and, yes, yes, vice versa of course. Smaller numbers sitting around the political table is more effective too. Our council is more effective with 11 elected members than it ever was with 15 elected members.
An interesting workshop on how to approach a review of Library Services. It’s only a workshop where ideas can be floated and discussed in a non-threatening environment. I noted the daily print media managed to get along, no doubt sniffing blood on the carpet. Staff will coordinate the discussion points and bring back some research we asked for. Libraries are in for a big change as the tech revolution hits communities. Our city librarian told us only one in three visitors to the library actually borrows a book, so the way to a library’s future will be a big shift that we need to get right first time. By the way, 30 per cent of library members come from Western Bay of Plenty. At no charge to them.
At full council we received reports from ratepayer funded organisation contracted to provide services. Export NZ receives $48,896 for handling our sister city connection. This arrangement was shifted from a cultural and educational base to a business-oriented association about five years ago. Contrary to urban myth there are no ratepayer funded junkets for councillors. Only the Mayor has his air fare paid.
Visitor information is now handled by Tourism BOP and receives $285,399 of their total budget. This is down from $404,064 in 2004/05 when council provided the service. Leigh Auton, new CEO, requested some $60,000 in resourcing for his reorganisation review.
A new secure boat park is going ahead at Sulphur Point. There are 76 spaces available at an annual rental of around $1650. This is a self-funding operation. Ring council’s property division if you would like to book a space. It is timed to open pre-Christmas and demand will be high once it’s able to be seen. As they say – beat the rush.
An interesting presentation from Harry Wilson of NZ Transport Agency (NZTA). Government provides just under $3 billion a year to run the land transport system. That’s more than just roads. For example, they pay the police $300 million. I was delighted to learn a new techno-speak word: hypothecation, which means that money can only be spent on what it is collected for. (I think I got that right!) And another mystery solved as to why roading money gets spent on strange projects. NZTA has to spend the dollars allocated each year. No carry forwards! Bureaucracy rules – oh dear!
This week’s mindbender from Terry Rossio “My lousy way of getting it done is better than your great way of not doing it.” – How relevant.