1/ What inspired you to stand/continue as a Councillor?
Prior to standing in 2013 I was a regular attender at Council meetings and became concerned when Council did not listen to the people especially the move from land value to capital value for funding of the general rate. A petition with 8000 names and a march on Council was ignored. I am concerned we told the people in the 2015 LTP that our debt would be $103 million by 2025. The debt as at 30 June 2019 is $144 million and likely to raise to $170/180 million unless stopped by like minded Councillors.
This Council has a Council Mark which is a grading of all councils who want to be involved. The highest is A the lowest CCC we are BBB. This document states the following "Council lacks leadership in defining and maintaining standards on behalf of the community." This must be changed.
2/ How would you represent ratepayers against ever growing bureaucracy of Local Government and in particular the CEO / management’s increasing control over councillors?
This can be handled by a Mayor who makes it very clear Councillors control not the CEO or senior staff. I recently in chambers asked the CEO what the staff turn over has been in the past 3 years and I am still waiting for an answer. We must challenge all cost over runs and get answers as to why this happens. Mistakes in agenda items are the responsibility of the CEO and a CEO must be held to account by a strong Mayor
3/ Will you investigate cost cutting measures such as a restructuring of council staff and salaries?
The only person we employ as Councillors is the CEO but this is no reason Councillors can have a say and this has happened in the past. In June 2014 there were 287 full time equivalent staff in June 2019 313. The payments to employees in the year to 30 June 2018 was $21169 million in 30 June 2019 $22473 million plus our budget for consultants is going from $1 million to $2 million. One third of the rate take goes in salaries.
4/ List evidence of your skills, qualifications and experience that gives you the confidence to represent ratepayers on Council?
I left school at 16 to start a career farming. As I had come from a city background it was an interesting choice. At 21 my wife and I took out 3 mortgages to buy cows and 8 years later we brought a farm in Taranaki and farmed there for 20 years. In 1995 we sold and moved to Taupo to start a wedding and accommodation business. We started from ground zero and when we sold in 2013 we had a 5 star Qualmark rating. During these years we went through droughts, cyclones and depressed product prices and our accommodation venue dropped 40% in turn over during the world financial crisis. This back ground of self employment and no set income makes me ideal to serve you on council as I know how hard it is to earn a dollars so the money council spends is your hard earned money not Councils.
I am available always to hear concerns or our district residence and try to answer emails within a couple of hours. I have a reputation of asking the hard questions in Council and are responsible to see mistakes in Council documents and will continue to do so. I have all my agenda papers in hard copy so its easy to compare financial figures from month to month instead of the small ipads.
5/ What are your governance, financial and critical analysis skills?
Having been the owner of two successful business I believe I have some knowledge of running a business and that is what a Council is. We are spending your money which is often forgotten. In a previous life I was a director of a dairy company and Vet group as well as serving 13 years on the board of a farm training scheme with 6 years as chairman. My highest achievement was when I was elected at a conference in Istanbul to the position of World Dairy Group Chairman of the International Federation of Agriculture Producers based in Paris
6/ With the District currently enjoying a growth phase, where should the priorities of capital expenditure be? What are the priorities for Taupo's future?In the Council Mark document that I mentioned earlier it states." Council would benefit from a more complete understanding of the true value and life of our underground assets " This is were our capital expenditure needs to go as well as our 3 waters ie waste, storm and drinking. There is a need for a second bridge before any thing else is done. At the moment its very much cart before horse. On the domestic front play grounds need up grading and there is funding in the LTP to do this
7/ The Council vision is to be the most prosperous and liveable District in the North island. Would you as a Councillor have conflict between tourism and outdoor activity promotion and improving core services on behalf of residents?
Tourism is a big earner in this district but we need infrastructure to support this and some of this can come from central government. The 3 waters again are important as well as good roads and good waste management of rubbish in the high season
8/ Councils by law can increase the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) to 30% of total rates revenue. The UAGC is $250 per rateable unit which in 9.13% of total rates revenue (17/18). Would you support increasing UAGC to a higher level with an ultimate target of 30%?
I would support a increase in this and have always argued this way. Whangarei funds district wide activities were a fixed charge is considered more appropriate than one based on property values. We use to have $470 under land value. Hamilton has a UAGC that increases by the inflation rate Another Council states the UAGC is used to fund services that all residents are able to access equally. Why should we be different? Examples Carterton $804, Gisborne $791 Kaikoura $519
9/ Is the Council differential rating mechanism reflecting services and benefits across the district ratepayers?Differentials are an interesting beast. While businesses have a differential of 1.8 it could be argued they use more services than resident homes they can also get bit of their tax. Why are the generators only like homes on 1. I would support a full hard look at the pros and cons
10/ Taupo Council has one of the highest debt to ratepayer ratios of all Councils; do you agree with the Long-Term Plan projected debt increase and have confidence that we ratepayers support this policy?
I am totally opposed to the amendment to the LTP and the large debt increases if this direction is allowed to go ahead. We need to Councillors to say no and have this ridiculous decision overturned. The lessons of the breakout on our waterfront in July need to be learnt and I know ratepayers don't support these costs.
11/ Do you agree with the current policy re the Maori Wards?
I do not agree with Maori wards. We are one people and you only have to go to a swearing in of new citizens to see how diverse our population base is. I would in the future to have these different cultures appear in front of Council meeting to wish us best wishes for our meeting in their own language
12/ What is your analysis of the $40m ‘Cultural Centre’ project, particularly in reference to the $474k spent on consultants before the Reserves Act was researched, showing no commercial activities allowed?
This culture centre was badly handled from the start and Iam amazed having been told by the people no building on the reserve we went ahead with the master plan. I am guilty of not questioning what the costs of the consultants were and not challenging the CEO in regards to these cost. However we are doing it again giving the CEO the power to do the same .Council will receive various proposals for professional services for the building. OFFICERS OF THE COUNCIL will determine which suppliers will be awarded contracts. Because of the elections Council wont be able to approve them. It is proposed THAT COUNCIL DELEGATES AUTHORITY TO THE CEO to approve the contracts for the successful suppliers. Who the hell runs this council. I tried to get it stopped till after the election but only got the support of Councillors Jollands and Kingi. This is serious
13/ What is your analysis of the ‘Northern Corridor Improvements’ project (costing $900k)?
This is a joke. To spend a million dollars on what. Again cart before horse. Traffic on this corner was starting to work well once the 50km speed restriction was put in and the merge like a zip coming down the hill. But no we did not wait. I voted against the lights
14/ What is your preferred option for the CAB (Council Administration Building) and why?
The truth about the submissions and the percentages for the options was wrong. There were not 645 submissions there were 842 as 197 from Turangi were not included. With these there were only 68 in favour of carpark and underground parking or 8%of the submissions. Not only that 4 days before the decision was made we had a report from Abley that stated looking ahead 20 to 25 years that there is sufficient parking and the underground parking is not considered to be essential
I am totally against any build and have always supported leasing. When asked had anyone had contact with our landlords about long term leases the answer was no. Another example of poor leadership. We lease 7 building spaces. The annual lease is $463984 for 2493 sq metre or and average of $186 per sq metre. Of these 5 building bring a rate return of $149910. Two buildings had nothing on the website. One building returns half the lease costs in rates. I visited Gisborne in March to have a look at their new building and they have a fit for purpose build larger than we need for $12.8million and some of that cost was leasing.
15/ During your time as a Councillor what is the highlight, the one achievement on behalf of ratepayers, that you have personally driven?
To name one is difficult but I can honestly say that I put a lot of effort into reading and researching anything that comes across my desk. I am the only Councillor I think that has used standing orders to get change. The first was an extra Council meeting in late January or early February. Council use to meet in early December and not meet till the end of February that has stopped. I lost one to get out of the share market and to bring our own lunch. I often would get calls about work activities in the district and on my suggestion we now get a weekly works schedule. In finance we now have contingency payments shown and movements in budgets from one work in process to another is now shown.
I look forward to serving you in the coming 3 years