I spent much of Thursday at the Hastings Council’s budget submissions, and will do the same today.
You see heaps of familiar faces at these sessions, mostly because the same submitters need to haul their powerpoints around to the Napier and Regional Council submissions as well. Few issues are purely “local.” We submitters should all chip in and hire a van. But already I digress.
I tell everyone (who will listen to me) to make a budget submission. Because unless you’re a squeaky wheel, you can forget about getting any monetary consideration from the Councils.
For example, there could be thousands of people in Hawke’s Bay who are under-fed and hungry today. But because none of them, nor the charities that try to help feed them, asked for Councils to help meet their need, no more than token assistance, if that, will be forthcoming.
On the other hand, the struggling masses of Waimarama were well-represented at the Hastings submissions … indeed two factions of them. Arguing over who should pay what percentage of the initial $250,000 cost of repairing the seawall protecting part of the beach. The staff has recommended that the “public good” portion of this project should be valued at 10%, with ratepayers throughout the District therefore paying $25,000 (and the same share of ongoing maintenance).
What’s the “public good” value of alleviating more hunger in Hastings? Surely at least $25,000. But, you see, no one asked.
Fascinating questions — and even some difficult ones — get posed during the budget submissions.
- Should Haumoana and its neighbours disappear into the sea or be rejuvenated, complete with logo, as the “Cape Coast” … and what is the “public good” component of those costs?
- Is the Hastings Council, in blind allegiance to the District Health Board, slowly poisoning with fluoride everyone drinking municipal water, or are they prudently saving us from the ravages of tooth decay?*
- Does the regional sports park require yet another cash infusion?
- Have the Maori Music Awards achieved such national prestige that our Council(s) should lock them into Hawke’s Bay with a bit of cash underwriting, or are there more impressive economy-boosting events that should be ratepayer supported?
- Should ratepayers care whether Creative Hawke’s Bay survives, or is it good enough to have Creative Hastings and Creative Napier?
- Should ratepayers help underwrite hockey, which costs players $4-$6 a match, or netball, which costs $0.20 a head?
- How many “fixes” will the Clive waste treatment plant really need, and what will Councillors sacrifice to pay the $1.7 million (initial) cost of those fixes now on the table?
This is the stuff of local Hawke’s Bay budget politics.
Every one of those issues is deeply important to some part of our community … and deserves to be.
It would be nice to see more of the community pay attention. As far as I’m concerned, the more squeaky wheels, the better.
*I say, put melatonin in our water instead. According to Wikipedia, melatonin has been studied for the treatment of cancer, immune disorders, cardiovascular diseases, depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sleep disorders and sexual dysfunction. Sounds like more bang for the buck to me!