Papamoa Residents and Ratepayers Association is frustrated by the fast advances of Tauranga City Council's Long-Term Plan.
“The long-term plan is looking 10 years ahead, where the council is going to go with spending and development,” says association chairman Philip Brown.
“It sets a budget and a set of things that it hopes to achieve in the next 10 years; which is usually reviewed every year to see whether they are on track.
“Normally a long term plan cycle would be signed off in about July next year.
“We are about six months ahead of the game at the moment for no obvious reason apart from that the commissioners want to lock things in so they can't be unlocked when an elected council is established.
“They're pushing the process far too fast. There is no need to advance it this quickly.”
Tauranga City Council commission chair Anne Tolley says after the draft 10-year plan has been prepared, they ask the community for their views on all of the key decisions that need to be made and the feedback provided then shapes the final plan.
“Consultation is normally undertaken in February/March of an LTP year, but in this instance, we’ve brought that forward so that there is plenty of time for people to consider the options put forward and make submissions, have those submissions heard and considered and then bring forward an amended plan for the Commission to adopt before the end of its tenure in July 2024.”
Despite the consultation process, Philip believes the public voice is not being heard.
Papamoa Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman, Philip Brown.
Philip is concerned that the council wants to lock it all in so it cannot be unstitched easily.
Tolley says the timing makes no difference to the process, “but ensures that there is time to develop an effective plan which is supported by the wider community and have that adopted and in place before the Commission’s tenure comes to an end”.
“A delay in adopting the Long-term Plan 2024-34 beyond the end of June 2024 would require specific Government approval,” says Tolley.
“It would also be contrary to the Commission’s terms of reference, and to the best interests of the city, which require timely decision-making and actions which will help us catch up on years of indecision and underinvestment in the infrastructure and community facilities we so badly need.
“It will give the newly-elected council the chance to hit the ground running and work on implementing a 10-year plan which has been shaped by the community and will meet the city’s needs.”
Another concern of Philip’s is the impact the change of national government will have.
“The assumptions that they have based this current long-term plan are going to change,” says Philip.
“The Council was relying on a Three Waters handout to pay for some of it. That's not going to happen now.
“It normally comes down to how much the rates are going to increase, where are we going to spend that money on, and is the spending a good use of the money, that's really your tick boxes.
Can the council afford these plans?
“The short answer is yes, with prudent management and an ongoing focus on finding innovative ways to fund what are essential and long-overdue investments,” says Tolley.
“The draft Long-term Plan 2024-34 has been approved by Audit New Zealand.”
Philip is worried about the financial side of things as he believes the council cannot afford it.
“The answer is no”, says Philip.
“Even the Audit General has said that the money's not available at the moment, unless someone produces money in the next couple of months,” says Philip.
“There's no point in rushing ahead because all your fundamental ideas may be wrong in these sectors and that's a lot of money and may change all you’re thinking on budgets.”
“We're saying to them, go slow and go back and do the re-analysis. Get it right.
Tauranga City Council commission chair, Anne Tolley.
Tolley says, The Audit New Zealand’s audit opinion states that:
“The consultation document provides an effective basis for public participation in the Council’s decisions about the proposed content of its 2024-34 long-term plan, because it:
• fairly represents the matters proposed for inclusion in the long-term plan; and
• identifies and explains the main issues and choices facing the Council and city, and the consequences of those choices; and
• the information and assumptions underlying the information in the consultation document are reasonable.”
“If legislation is changed before the scheduled adoption of the final Long-term Plan, Council will consider the content and potential impacts of any new legislation, as well as the detail of any transitional arrangements involved, before deciding what next steps, if any, may be required.
“The draft LTP was developed in the knowledge that a change of Government could result in legislative changes, particularly in the 3 Waters space.
“Our expectation is that this will not adversely affect the work programme set out in the draft plan, but if that was to be the case, further community consultation could be undertaken,” says Anne.
“The public consultation for the draft LTP is open until 15 December and will give everyone an opportunity to provide their thoughts on this proposal, noting that the preferred option put forward for the stadium is that it should be staged over several years and not commence until 2029/30.
“Members of the public are also able to speak directly with commissioners in person about their feedback, if they wish to, during the hearings process in February next year.
“The Commissioners will consider all community feedback before adopting the Long-term Plan 2024-34 in April next year.
“As far as we are aware, no authoritative independent polls have indicated community-wide concerns about other projects.
“Notably, consultation about Te Manawataki o Te Papa (the Civic Precinct projects) showed significant community support for investment in these long-overdue community facilities,” says Tolley.
“It is far better that the City proactively plans for its future and positively engages with central Government on how we can work together to give effect to the long-term plan, rather than being reliant on decisions being made on our behalf.
“Having an LTP and clear prioritised investment plans in place puts us in a much stronger position to take advantage of any opportunities the new Government may provide.
“Under the circumstances, the Commission sees no need for a delay and, in fact, any such delay would be contrary to the city’s best interests,” says Tolley.