About this time every year various undisciplined elected reps strut through the media promoting all sorts of preposterous suggestions on budgets. Proposing that there be zero rates is amongst the least responsible. Let’s see if that rears its head this time. Often a group will promote lower rates so their name gets in the media. They generally do not show how that lower rating figure can be achieved, because all they are doing is being show ponies.
I was surprised this week when I received an email from the CEO of CCC showing how the negotiations to date have gone toward setting the rates. The process of setting rates is extremely political, right to the end. No matter how robust the LTP exercise has been, until a majority of Councillors have voted for a figure that’s when the rates increase can be announced by the mayor. I would have thought the email by the CEO was premature, at best.
When I became a Councillor, as an accountant I was appalled at how flexible the process was setting the rates. On the day of the annual rate setting the atmosphere in the Council Chamber is electric. There are amendments flying left right and centre. Some go through. Most don’t. The day starts with a figure and it moves up and down from there. It’s all about numbers and the art of political persuasion. Some amendments which succeed are worthy and some are just stupid. But they get through because a majority of Councillors support them.
There will have been many excellent decisions made during the hearings process. Some worthy ideas will have died waiting to be revived for another day.
On Friday Stuff published an article on a group of Councillors promoting what I guess they consider will make them popular. They are proposing to delay implementing the cycleway network. That fits neatly into the “deny there’s a world threat over Global Warming” camp.
The press reported:
But (Sam) MacDonald hit back, saying he did not think anyone would deny climate change, the move was about fiscal responsibility.
Now, that’s the sort of argument being used by the Republicans in USA to block just about everything. Let us refer to this as the McConnell style. If there is no dispute about climate change then why delay spending sensible money on structures which address it?
The elected reps need to remember that Government wrote the four well beings back into the Local Government Act:
The purpose of the Local Government Act is changed back to its 2002 version to provide for: Local Authorities to play a broad role in promoting the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of their communities, taking a sustainable development approach
This attempt by these Councillors to move money from a forward thinking, environmentally responsible, policy to spending more money on roads is just posturing. We need a vast network of cycleways and we need them urgently.
Maybe it’s because none of them ride bikes?
Their other proposal of reducing staff by 10% is another please-the-crowd effort. Slick line for the media to hone in on. A PR spin, but badly thought through. The pander to radio talkback would be how I would categorise this proposal. If these 5 really want to make savings and reduce rates, they should look closely at the External Advisory Group’s report prepared at their request. This report made a number of serious recommendations. Few of which have been implemented. The EAG recommendations involving capital works have been redacted from the media and would assist the rates reduction somewhat. Why didn’t they use this document? At least it was well thought through.
Here’s the article:
Just for the five Councillors edification, here’s a letter written for the Press by John Gould:
Sadly, the Press’s lead story (June 18) reports that 5 councillors want to delay the Council’s visionary cycleway programme. CCC, Ecan and the Government have all declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency and in its recent Climate Change Strategy, CCC acknowledges that 54% of emissions come from transport. Their best response, so far, has been the excellent new cycleway network attracting increasing numbers of bikes, Ebikes, scooters, E-scooters, skate boards, mobility scooters etc. each helping to reduce car numbers on congested roads.
How many more floods, fires and cyclones will we have to endure before everybody realizes we are disrupting planetary systems hugely and urgent action is needed. The Weather page, “Carbon count” box shows CO2 over 410ppm (up 30% since 1960), when it was last at these concentrations >3m years ago sea-levels were 10-20m higher than today. Some councillors clearly need to educate themselves fast on the environmental challenges’ humanity is facing.
Good luck next week Mayor and Councillors. I’m sure at the end of the day the rates level will be sensible.
This group no doubt would see the current UK PM as their idol