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Local Government

Rebuttal of TCDC response to “Money does not grow on trees”

In The Coromandel Informer, 20 February 2024 publication (p.13), TCDC allege Long Term Plan (LTP) inaccuracies in the “Money does not grow on trees” article in The Coromandel Informer 6 February 2024 publication (pp 20 and 25).
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I raised three specific points in the article,

1. A financially illiterate council (a back to basic approach);

2. A flawed process (non-representative and biased); and

3. Rates must not (necessarily) increase (Council (TCDC) spending money we do not have, using the ratepayer as an ATM).

TCDC, in their response, only seek to clarify points 2 and 3.

In rebutting TCDC’s response, I comment as follows on points 1-5 raised by TCDC;

Points 1, 2, 3 and 5: A flawed and selective pseudo-process hiding behind a thinly disguised statutory compliance veil of the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA 2002), TCDC argues its early, informal engagement (to Iwi and a selective (few) “… stakeholders and interest groups”) does not form part of TCDC’s statutory consultation requirement.

TCDC confirm they have engaged with (handpicked) “selective… partners… stakeholders and interest groups” and consulted with them for five months(since Oct. ‘23). Who selects these partners, stakeholders and interest groups? Who decides who is in? Who decides who is not in? On what basis?

Section 93A LGA 2002, “Use of special consultative procedure in relation to long-term plan”, refers to s 83(1)(a)(i) (statement of proposal), and per s 83((1)(b)(ii) and (iii) awards the public a period of “not less than 1 month (from time of publication) for providing views” (consultation period).

In contrast with the five months afforded its selective “… stakeholders and interest groups”, the public, that is, us who pay the fees and rates, are afforded the absolute minimum statutory required consultation period (8 March-8 April 2024) and a meagre three public hearing days (30 April-2 May 2024) to give input.

A balanced (unbiased) view would allow ratepayers an equal period for input – behold, s 83A LGA 2002 provides for a combined or concurrent consultation process. TCDC decided not to do that.

What do you think? Is it a flawed and selective pseudo-process?

Point 4:Rates must not necessarily increase

TCDC state they are not developing “..draft budgets…. on the premise that rates and fees must increase”. BUT, simultaneously, they do not see”..any other… option to increase rates and fees if … maintain current services”.

With respect, it is not granted existing, non-statutory services must remain. That is for us, the fee and ratepayer, to decide. THAT is the exact point highlighted in the “Money does not grow on trees” article (p.25), 6 February 2024.

To make informed decisions, we require cost-benefit information about all services, especially non-statutory services, enabling us to decide whether we want a service and, if we want it, whether we can afford it. Commonly called “having to cut your cloth” in a cost-of-living-, high-inflation environment!

What do you think? Should our fees and rates increase?