Response to questionnaire:
"Good afternoon, Please find attached questionnaire from Kathy Guy, Candidate for Taupo District Council.
Kathy Guy MNZM
[Kathy Guy email 5 Sep 19]
1/ What inspired you to stand/continue as a Councillor?
Living in the Taupo district for 41 years I have a strong commitment to the community. Currently a Board Member of Lake Taupo Hospice and a Rotary Club member, I have continued to serve my community after my retirement in October last year. My goal as a Councillor is to use my knowledge and skills of Governance and Leadership as a CEO, to ensure sensible and prudent development of the Districts future through infrastructure and social support. I am future focused and believe in sound planning to allow for the rapidly changing social and economic needs of our District. I believe in an exciting future for Taupo and embrace change as a positive feature of growth for the rural and urban communities of the District. I will come into this role with no preconceived agenda and therefore look at the issues presented before me with a fresh perspective.
2/ How would you represent ratepayers against ever growing bureaucracy of Local Government and in particular the CEO / management’s increasing control over councillors?
By sound and good governance. Good governance creates a strong future for an organisation by continually steering it towards a vision and making sure that the day to day management is aligned with the organisation’s goals. A sound governing body/CEO relationship is central to a mutually satisfying working relationship. There should be a clearly defined and documented delegation of authority and a mutual agreement about the boundaries of autonomy granted to the CEO to ensure they are carrying out their role. Local Government by its very nature is a political beast and therefore bureaucracy is required to ensure there is no deviation from legislative policy that may put the Council at risk.
3/ Will you investigate cost cutting measures such as a restructuring of council staff and salaries?
It is important that Governance does not become embroiled in staff operational issues as that is not the role of Council. It is, however, important for Council to ask the questions of the CEO and require the answers to improving efficiencies within the Council operations if we are to work towards reducing debt by improving efficiencies anyway, we can.
4/ List evidence of your skills, qualifications and experience that gives you the confidence to represent ratepayers on Council?
I have strong governance and proven leadership skills developed over many of years in Senior Management. I served at National level on the Board of Tourism New Zealand as well as Regional Chair of the NZ Hotel Council, the latter representing four regions of Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Ruapehu and Taupo. I was also Chair of the Governments Major Regional Initiative and responsible for $4.5mil of funding to drive business opportunities and build capability in the Tourism Industry in the Central North Island. My role as CEO of both Wairakei Resort and Chateau Tongariro since 1999 has exposed me to a number of national industry bodies and advocacy roles at the highest level. In 2016 I was honoured in the New Year Honours list becoming a recipient of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Tourism. In late 2018 I also received national recognition for my leadership in the industry and received the NZ Hotel Council Industry award and the highest New Zealand Tourism Award, The Sir Jack Newman Outstanding Industry Leader Award for my contribution to Tourism in New Zealand These attest to my commitment, work and achievements over the years.
5/ What are your governance, financial and critical analysis skills?
During my time on the National Board of Tourism New Zealand, I was also on the Audit Committee. I have been CEO of two successful multi million-dollar businesses and responsible for all budgeting and financial decisions relating to their operations. I had total responsibility and accountability for the new $7 million build of the new Tongariro Wing at the Chateau in 2004 and headed the project management team. Both our business entities were self-sufficient with their own water treatment and wastewater treatment plants. I am well versed in risk management in terms of financial management and infrastructure liabilities. I have been Chair and Deputy Chair of Destination Great Lake Taupo, Board member of Taupo Economic Development and a Board member on the Taupo Airport Authority. I have worked with a diverse range of Community groups as well as Iwi, local government and central government organisations. See above.
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?
It is important to focus on the services required to ensure the sustainability of our district. Water quality, Stormwater and Wastewater are paramount along with improved road networks and improved town centre parking facilities. Any growth will have to meet requirements for environmental protection and a sustainable future. It will be important to monitor Council expenditure to ensure that rates and any increases are justified to meet the growing needs of the districts infrastructure.
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?
Absolutely not. Councils are one of the Tourism Industries most important partners. Council invest in and support infrastructure used by both visitors and residents, such as museums, public toilets, walkways. They invest in promotional activities like events, festivals which in turn attract international and domestic visitors. These add vibrancy to communities, offer business opportunities for residents and support jobs. Only a fraction of visitor spend occurs in tourism businesses like accommodation and attractions. Visitors spend in shops, cafes, bars, petrol stations and other local businesses and all residents benefit from this spend. By building a strong economy we build a strong and sustainable district and provide the core services so needed by residents.
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%?
Only if it was totally justified through an analysis of Council costs. Should the need to increase the UACG at anytime in the future this should be in line with CPI increases but I would not support an excessively high percentage.
9/ Is the Council differential rating mechanism fairly reflecting services and benefits across the district ratepayers?
I agree on differential rating as fair and equitable reflection given some ratepayers do not have access to Council services.
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?
The LTP shows that Council is working towards reducing its Debt ratio to 200% maximum of AOI. Ratepayers have had ample opportunity to submit to the LTP and therefore should have indicated any concerns as to this Debt, through the submissions process. If our district is to have long term sustainable infrastructure and services to meet a high standard, then increased costs are part of that process. This, however, does not mean unjustified rate increases. Hence the need for prudent planning, analysis and control of operational and governance costs.
11/ Do you agree with the current policy re the Maori Wards?
No. I would like to see established a permanent Iwi seat on Council. Given Iwi are an integral part of our District, it is important that they are included in all aspects of planning not just as advisors but as equal partners.
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?
I would be questioning the CEO on the competencies of Councils legal team as I would have assumed that this was a fundamental question that should have been addressed during the initial investigation to build on the Domain.
13/ What is you analysis of the ‘Northern Corridor Improvements’ project (costing $900k)?
There is a requirement for an urgent review of the approach and departure lanes into and from the Traffic Lights. I travel this each day and find it frustrating as others do with the cycle lane northbound, no definitive merge lane into Poihipi Rd and the merging lane southbound at Traffic Lights. However overall this is a huge improvement over the previous system particularly with the reduced speed limit northbound and the merging of traffic from Norman Smith Street. Certainly it will be well tested during holiday peak flows and may need some tweaking.
14/ What is your preferred option for the CAB (Council Administration Building) and why? Include particular reference to building or leasing.
I would prefer a leased building option outside of the main town centre should there be a suitable site and developer be available. This would allow council to reduce debt further by not committing to further capital expenditure and focus on the core range of Council services to their communities to ensure future proofing of infrastructure. I am concerned as to the impact of this proposed CAB building on the business community with lose parking space should it go ahead.
15/ During your time as a Councillor what is the highlight, the one achievement on behalf of ratepayers, that you have personally driven?