Response to questionnaire:
"Thank you for the opportunity that you have created to establish some dialogue on what matters to our community in the lead up to voting. It's hard for voters to make a decision based on a 150 generic worded bio in the voting papers - and often I hear this from voters. Candidates shouldn't shy away from answering questions.
Please find attached my responses to the questions you have posed. Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries. I have put my answers in a word document alongside questions - hope that works best for you"
[Rosanne Jollands email 6 Sep 19]
Taupo Campaign – Rosanne Jollands – response to questions asked
1. What inspired you to stand/continue as a Councillor?
What galvanized me to stand 6 years ago for council was that council was not listening to our community. This situation remains the same today, which is why I am standing for a third term.
There are key decisions that will need to be made in the next few years that will impact all our lives. We will need to navigate these decisions with careful thought and planning. You will need the right people around the table to work with you to ensure we make good decisions. You need people that can work together, and I promise you that I am committed to making that happen.
2. How would you represent ratepayers against ever growing bureaucracy of Local Government and in particular the CEO / management’s increasing control over councillors?
To ensure that the CEO and management do not control council I will continue to ask the hard questions, challenge the status quo.
Culture is key, councillors and the mayor setting the course, not the other way around. Councillors need to set the agenda and set performance measures that hold the CEO and senior staff to account.
3. Will you investigate cost cutting measures such as a restructuring of council staff and salaries?
It’s not staff salaries that are the problem, the problem is poor spending and decision making.
Fostering a culture and an organisational structure that makes people accountable for the value they deliver, empowering those within the organisation to do their job well and seeking improvements that create efficiencies are the answer to controlling costs and making this ship go faster. Our focus needs to be on supporting those that deliver councils service to you.
We shouldn’t accept cost overruns and unbudgeted expenditure as “business as usual”. We need to stop doing things that aren’t adding value, find new and fresh ways to do our jobs and focus on high value work. We need to instill a culture that every dollar does count, predicated on the fact that it’s this community’s hard earned money we are spending on their behalf.
4. List evidence of your skills, qualifications and experience that gives you the confidence to represent ratepayers on Council?
I am an experienced second term councillor who understands the workings of council and local government. My reputation is as a councillor who comes prepared to council meetings, one that asks the tough questions and challenges the status quo, a councillor who listens and has a healthy dose of common sense.
An RMA Commissioner and trustee for Life Education Trust, I have a management degree, majoring in economics and now, 30 years’ business and governance experience.
I have an extensive network of connections across our community – from my work and support of groups such as Greening Taupo, Friends of the Museum, resident groups such as the Acacia Bay Residents Association and the Kinloch Representative Group, working with our homeless, our youth and many of community volunteers groups, I am a familiar face at many of our local mares.
5. What are your governance, financial and critical analysis skills?
My career has provided me with an extensive range of skills that I can bring to council.
With a degree in business and economics I am extremely comfortable interpreting and analyzing financial information, working at senior levels at NZ’s leading advertising agencies, I am strong strategic thinker. I also understand that importance of working in a team and have won several awards in this space over the years.
As well as governance experience gained at the council I am a trustee for two trusts here in Taupo.
Working under the mantra that you are never too old to learn I am also keen to improve my skills. During my time as a councillor I have gained accreditation as a Resource Management Commissioner. As recently as last month, I obtained my Chair endorsement for my work as a Commissioner – the qualification I received is entitled “Making Good Decisions”!
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?
Core Infrastructure that’s fit for purpose – including fast tracking investigations into the state of our current underground assets
Protecting our natural resources.
Fast-tracking approach on how we move around our district.
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?
Council needs to focus on improving core services on behalf of residents first and foremost. This includes ensuring that our infrastructure such as the “three waters”, while not very “sexy” subjects, are maintained and renewed in a timely manner – otherwise our environment suffers and where will our tourism and outdoor activities be then?
While tourism is a key contributor to our GDP, our role is to provide an environment where everyone can flourish. This does not extend to “corporate welfare”.
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 is 9.13% of total rates revenue (17/18). Would you support increasing UAGC to a higher level with an ultimate target of 30%?
The real issue with rates is that poor quality decision making leads to over spending, which results in council needing to increase rates revenue.
I do support a full review of how rates are struck in our district. The dynamics of how rates are used to collect revenue are changing across the country. We need to make sure that our rating structure is fair and equitable for all.
Rates are made up of a uniform annual general charge (UAGC), a general rate (based on a properties capital value) and targeted rates.
The number of councils across NZ with a UAGC has increased notably over recent years and while not many reach the ceiling of 30%, the average sits at 16%, which is well below the UAGC struck for our district. The trend across NZ of councils’ in general reliance on general rates is decreasing. At the same time councils are becoming more reliant on targeted rates. (Source: Insight Economics May 2019)
We have much to learn from the sharing information with other councils, reviewing best practice and recent reports on these matters from organisations such as the NZ Productivity Commission.
9. Is the Council differential rating mechanism fairly reflecting services and benefits across the district ratepayers?
Council uses differentials as mechanism in the “rating toolbox” to allocate costs between different groups of properties based on the level of service and benefit they receive. Differentials are applied to the General Rate and here in Taupo, Council uses a 1.8 differential for Industrial/Commercial and Accommodation.
Currently council can justify any pattern of differentials simply by altering target allocations. What council needs to be doing is starting from a point of uniformity and then modify (apply differentials) according to a set of factors such as levels of service, ability to pay, cost and willingness to pay. Differentials should be derived from a systematic and objective process of evaluation. This may be uncomfortable for council but it would present an improvement on the current status quo and in a review greatly improve policy transparency in this area.
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?
Again, this comes back to poor quality decision making, leading to over spending,
However council wants to cut or present their debt levels the simple fact of the matter is that we have one of the highest debt to ratepayer ratios of any council. In 2018 the average liability per ratepayer across NZ was $4876, in the Taupo District it was $8274. (Source: http://www.ratepayersreport.nz)
We do need to focus on reducing our debt. With major projects in the pipeline and a wide range of council assets that will need renewal, keeping rates affordable and managing our debt levels will be key to all our futures. Inter-generational debt and a culture of spending will mean we will reach a point in time where this becomes a handbrake on our future prosperity.
Using the TEL fund and assets that can’t be realized to offset gross debt levels to make our overall nett position presentable is irresponsible in my book.
Often touted is our Standard and Poor’s ratings as testament to councils’ good financial health. We have earned that rating because of you, the ratepayer, which S&P cite in their report as the target for additional funds.
We need to change the culture in council that unplanned expenditure and project overruns, changes in scope resulting in increased costs are acceptable.
While events happen, such as the Lake Terrace Spill, we really should be looking to judge our performance on not how we handled a crisis but how we avoided the chance of that crisis happening.
11. Do you agree with the current policy re the Maori Wards?
From what I have heard and seen to date, I do not see the establishment of Maori Wards as an effective tool to foster inclusion and democracy in our community.
Council have yet to make a decision on Maori Wards, this will be a matter to be decided on by the incoming council in the next three years. The concept of establishing Maori Wards needs to be considered in conjunction with existing iwi agreements and legislative obligations of council.
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?
The Reserves Act and the potential risks and challenges should have been highlighted earlier in the process as a key consideration. This was a matter I pushed council on early in the process.
A cultural centre is a great asset for our community. What I didn’t support was the council administration building and commercial activities on the reserve. Council lives in bubble if we think that the council building is key to vibrancy on the reserve.
13. What is you analysis of the ‘Northern Corridor Improvements’ project (costing $900k)?
This is project is example of poor planning and lack of forethought, dating back to the initial conversations at the time of the LTP when the debate became focussed on traffic lights versus roundabouts. At the time I raised the question as to what problem we were trying to solve when we didn’t have a strategy on transport for the district to steer our decision making.
The lights didn’t need to be installed right now and there were more effective solutions that could implemented as interim solutions – such as a low cost roundabout installation and an underpass to support the school children who cross this road every day.
My voting record will show that I voted against the installation of the lights at Norman Smith.
14. What is your preferred option for the CAB (Council Administration Building) and why? Include particular reference to building or leasing.
My preferred option for the CAB building is leasing. At the time of the LTP deliberations I moved a motion that we support leasing. My rationale was based on several factors: a lease will free up capital for community focused works or reduce debt, council would be an attractive tenant and the development risk (time, cost) would sit with the landlord, leasing provides certainty for annual operating costs, allows for opportunities to be explored for other council owned land and future proofs council by providing flexibility when council structures change.
I voted against the option to build, with an underground carpark on Tuwharetoa Street. The current cost to build has been estimated at $37.5m, $11 million of which is for an underground carpark. We have not done a geotechnical report on the ground and have exposed ourselves to cost overruns here because of unknowns – all for a carpark that the “experts” said we don’t need.
15. During your time as a Councillor what is the highlight, the one achievement on behalf of ratepayers, that you have personally driven?
Highlights for me come from the opportunities that present themselves as your councillor to work with the many awesome people and groups in our community.
There are many highlights to think of, as I type the response to this question, the one the comes to mind, one that makes me smile, is the work I have done alongside our young people and Greening Taupo and watching the numbers of people coming along to our community planting days grow every year.