In Napier, 26 cents of each ratepayer dollar goes to roading and associated projects. The central government funding cuts described in yesterday’s BayBuzz post will affect routine maintenance and renewal, resealing, extension of cycleways, as well as major new roadworks. The Napier Council staff has presented a paper examining these implications.
On Thursday, the Hastings Council’s Works Committee will meet. While there is an asset management report on the agenda, it does not include a discussion like Napier’s of the impact of central government funding cuts on Hastings’ transport projects.
Hastings spends about 21 cents of its average ratepayer’s dollar on transport, so one would think the effects of funding cuts might be comparable to Napier’s. At a time when the Hastings Council is rushing to spend capital on new offices, and advance borrowed money to the sports park, it might be questioned whether the overall capital spending schedule and amounts envisioned in the new LTCCP should already be re-examined.
On the Council, a noisy, pesky, irritating six Councillors seem to want to do just that. However the Mayor and Company represent nine votes who simply want to stay the course, come hell or high water.
Not a good look. Perhaps it’s time for you to fill out your Council Report Card here!
On the other hand, with independent commissioners recently slapping down the proposed Northern Arterial Road so hard the pavement cracked*, maybe the Council has “saved” (or been spared) so much roading money ($15-17 million?) it doesn’t need to lose any sleep over central government cutbacks.
The point is, we ratepayers don’t know. Just like Rodney Hide says we don’t.
It would seem that basic fiscal transparency and accountability would warrant a review of Council’s capital spending plans under the circumstances, before we start ordering new Council office furniture … just to be on the safe side. Which I strongly suspect is the side where ratepayers would like to see their Councillors stand.
*The rejection of the Northern Arterial Road by independent commissioners provides an interesting case study of how Council can get it so wrong. In his BayBuzz Digest article, Arterial Road Hits Dead End, opponent Paul Paynter analyzes this debacle.
Says Paul: “This was a remarkable defeat for the Council. Purportedly $1.9M worth of reports in support of the NAR was shot down by a bunch of Maoris, some peasant fruit growers and a handful of ‘old folk’ from Kennilworth Road. The commissioners acted with clarity and courage in turning down reams of evidence that sought to justify the NAR. Moreover, their decision was so emphatic that an appeal to the Environment Court seems to have been quickly dismissed.”