Last week we posted, When will the s**t hit the fan?, referring to Napier City Council’s long neglect of its water infrastructure. Something BayBuzz began warning about in 2009!
Well, it just hit the fan big time!!
NCC will borrow nearly $300 million over the next five years after years of “underinvestment” in assets! The change in policy was signalled but buried in the coucil’s latest long term plan:
“Historically we have not spent enough money on looking after our key assets – under the ground, on the ground, and in our community…
“To achieve the right balance, we’ve had to make some tough calls on what can be done within the next 10 years. We’ve taken a hard look at our spending and have cut our costs down. We’ve had to move some projects out a few years to save money and we are also looking to borrow $339m to catch up on maintenance and replacement of our key assets. There are consequences to this approach. We’re borrowing more than we ever have before, and our budget will not break even until 2031.”
Napier ratepayers have the regimes of mayors Allan Dick, Barbara Arnott and Bill Dalton to thank for this miserable situation. One could say ratepayers had their chances on numerous occasions over the last 20-some years to rectify this neglect. But of course there’s no such thing as public accountability for such mismanagement, especially when there’s no local newspaper to understand and call the question.
Uninformed voters simply drink the Kool-aid and former elected official just fade away.
Proudly and stupidly, the council currently has no ‘external’ debt, but will reach an estimated $298m in external debt by 2026. Half of that money will be spent on water infrastructure.
Now, after years of ‘internal borrowing’ shell games, Napier ratepayers are about to shoulder the debt they deserve. And they’ll probably blame the current regime. Such is democracy.
My sympathies in particular to chief executive Steph Rotarangi. The CEO is an experienced real world firefighter, but now she has a political inferno on her hands. I’ll bet this was a big surprise to her!
Ironically, through the media NCC is admonishing: Think before you water!
How about: Think before you vote!
And if you want local journalism that actually digs into these issues, support BayBuzz.