Response to questionnaire:
"Hi guys, nice to meet you all this morning and I attach my responses to your questionnaire.
Pleased to converse more if you have any questions"
[Duncan Campbell email 7Sep19]
Answers to questionnaire:
1/ What inspired you to stand/continue as a Councillor?
Dissatisfaction with this Councils current performance and some of the decision making, particularly transportation related.
2/ How would you represent ratepayers against ever growing bureaucracy of Local Government and in particular the CEO / management’s increasing control over councillors?
From an outsiders perspective the current CEO does appear to exert a significant influence, and can only say that I would do my best to try and introduce more critical evaluation. Bureaucracy is a tougher challenge, but I have experience with both extremes (i.e. too little, and too much) so can appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of both.
3/ Will you investigate cost cutting measures such as a restructuring of council staff and salaries?
Sounds like a good idea to me, although in my experience retention of quality staff is also important and uncertainty does not always help that.
4/ List evidence of your skills, qualifications and experience that gives you the confidence to represent ratepayers on Council?
I have over 25 years experience as a traffic engineer and have worked in a number of local councils around New Zealand, as well as consultancies. I believe I have a fairly good understanding of how councils work, and what motivates council staff to do a good job.
5/ What are your governance, financial and critical analysis skills?
As a practicing civil engineer, problem solving and financial accountability go hand in hand with the job.
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 general I am an advocate for limiting capital expenditure as much as possible, to creating and maintaining basic services such as roading and water/wastewater infrastructure, libraries, parks and reserves etc. Encouraging new businesses to set up in Taupo for better local employment opportunities is something I also advocate, and not just for tourism related activities.
7/ The Council vision is to be the most prosperous and livable 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?
That would be a question to properly evaluate in each particular instance. If an event is expected to generate benefits to the wider local community, then this would need to be weighed up against any local disadvantages.
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%?
Not unless someone can convince me it is justifiable.
9/ Is the Council differential rating mechanism fairly reflecting services and benefits across the district ratepayers?
I don’t think any rating mechanism can be totally fair, but reserve judgement on that question.
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?
In general, I don’t think increased debt is a good thing for anyone.
11/ Do you agree with the current policy re the Maori Wards?
12/ What is your analysis of the $40m ‘Cultural Centre’ project, particularly in reference to the $474k spent, before the Reserves Act was researched, showing no commercial activities allowed?
To date I have been fairly neutral on this subject, although I am somewhat sceptical in the way Council has progressed this whole endeavour. I was never convinced the old Council building should have been demolished, or at least as soon as it was.
13/ What is you analysis of the ‘Northern Corridor Improvements’ project (costing $900k)?
As a practicing traffic engineer with some knowledge of the issues, I don't believe that alternatives were seriously evaluated and am not convinced it was the best use of ratepayer money. To give some credit though, Taupo District Council did implement something that appears to have improved the situation for Nukuhau and Acacia Bay residents in busy periods.
14/ What is your preferred option for the CAB (Council Administration Building) and why? Include particular reference to building or leasing.
No preference at this point in time, as I have not put significant effort into understanding all the viewpoints.
15/ During your time as a Councillor what is the highlight, the one achievement on behalf of ratepayers, that you have personally driven?
Not applicable for the past, but if you ask me that in 3 years time I would like to say that I made a positive difference to some of the key decisions made by Taupo District Council.
16/ How could Taupo District Council’s Lake-shore Erosion Policy be improved, so that our vulnerable lake-shores are better protected from erosion?
17/ Could TDC’s working relationship with the Waikato Regional Council be strengthened? If so how?