Recently in a behind closed doors meeting our elected Councillors were told that the estimated rates increase in the Long-Term Plan for next year will be 18%. They must resist this and push hard for a decent analysis of costs.
In an article in the Press https://www.thepress.co.nz/a/nz-news/350064918/christchurch-council-will-have-sell-assets-or-do-less-mayor-says the Phil Mauger was reported as saying:
“If residents don’t want rates increases in this cost of living crisis, we have to do less or sell something, that is all that is left.”
In Newsroom https://www.newsroom.co.nz/councils-forced-to-consider-asset-sales-as-insurance-premiums-go-through-roof recently Phil Mauger was quoted as saying:
Insurance premiums are going stratospheric. We have to pay them. I look at surplus land and see things we don’t need. Do you sell something, or do less? Now, as soon as you do less, the ratepayers are going to go berserk because there are some things that they expect to see for their dollar.”
Remember how Phil Mauger was not going to sell trading assets?
Here’s the article in the Press which recorded his strong statement during the election campaign: https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/129482302/christchurch-mayoral-hopefuls-promise-not-to-sell-ratepayerowned-companies
Mauger made a stronger promise on CCHL companies.
“You can take it from me that under my watch as mayor, I will not be selling any of these assets,”he said.
“You read the room a bit and people are very attached to those.”
Mauger also said he would not sell community assets, namely libraries or swimming pools.
“You’re lining yourself up to get shot [if you do that].”
Recent public feedback:
In The Star last week there were pages of Letters to the Editor raging against CCC selling assets. Our elected reps ignore this spontaneous outburst from local people at their peril.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that assets can only be sold once. Asset sales were recommended by “economists” and the Business Roundtable to Christchurch decades ago and as a city we said “NO”. They called us the “Peoples Republic of Christchurch” and we wore that title with pride. And the feedback we got from our ratepayers was, “and so say all of us”. The Star response last week demonstrated that local people have not forgotten this ambush on our publicly owned assets.
However, this tired old campaign seems to be on its way back. Only this time it appears to being driven by the Council executive. Neither the CE nor the CFO were around when this topic was last debated. The CE wasn’t in NZ and the CFO was probably still at school. I’m wondering if this proposed “let’s consider selling the assets” exercise started before the election.
Over the next few months, I will examine if the executive had an agenda planned behind closed doors. I’m not sure whether it involved any elected reps.
Basically, I think what is happening right now is the Mayor and Councillors are being soft soaped by the CCC executive to believe that the only way they can keep rates low is to sell land and assets.
How the “soft-soaping” is operating:
Each week Councillors are being “briefed” by the executive about the trading assets we all own. This briefing is a good idea, and it could be useful if there’s no agenda behind it other than supplying information. However, I’m sure that’s not the secret agenda behind it.
It’s time to have a city conversation with our elected reps to balance some of the stuff they are having shoved down their necks by the unelected administration.
Obtaining information is difficult from within CCC:
However, getting information from the CE and CFO at CCC is often difficult. I have applied under the Local Government Information Act for much information including all the briefings the Councillors have received on CCHL. To date I have a number of times been unsuccessful.
One query I sent into Leah Scales on the 1st of May (they are required under the Act to reply within 20 days) is still not answered.
Here’s a more recent query I asked about the presentations to Councillors:
- Could I please have a copy of all the presentations, and notes for the CCHL Strategic Review, including future briefings.
Last week, just outside the 20-day limit to reply, as part of the briefing I received this response:
Information we hold to date is currently commercially sensitive.
This information is being withheld under section – 7(2)(b)(ii) – to protect the commercial position of the person who supplied or who is the subject of the information.
I challenged this ruling by CCC:
How can a briefing to Councillors be “commercially sensitive” to protect the commercial position of the person who has given them advice? I can understand some info being commercially sensitive. However, are the parties who are giving advice anticipating participation in the pickings available if an asset is put up for sale? If they are, then maybe the wrong people have been chosen to give ethical and objective advice.
I have complained to the Ombudsman that the CFO has failed to supply the information I requested on 1 May 2023. If I had been treated this way by any other organisation, I would have visited them personally. However, with this GM I think it would be a waste of time.