Carolyn and I came to settle and raise our young family here when we bought the Katikati Bird Gardens in 2004. A Kiwi raised in Auckland I have had a professional career abroad in systems and management in the banking and IT industry most recentky as a VP for Deutche Bank Global Credit Derivatives IT.
I believe this millennium has seen a new generation of family move to Katikati. One in search of lifestyle, climate and strong community. A group with diverse backgrounds, less parochial in thought, less tolerant of poor governance and more likely to question the status quo. It would appear there is a disconnect between our community wishes and our councils plans and goals.
As part of the Katikati affordable progress team (KAPT) and with community councillor status I hope to be able to rebalance the books and re-establish the spirit of community through democracy with strong representation to council.
Top 5 Issues
- Apparent lack of democracy.
The Community is in my opinion not actively represented in council decision making.
The main engagement the community has is by individuals making submissions to planning and policy after it has been presented. There doesn't appear to be any proactive engagement. Submissions are defended by council and mostly only acted on if they are taken to the local government commission or environment court by the community. This is either poor communications from a weak community board or community board system or a calculated dismissal of community/community board views by council.
Council has ramped up it's debt from near zero to over $120 Million dollars in the last three years alone. It appears it is running at maximum permissible debt to equity ratio. To service this debt council is relying on economic growth that it has forecast over the next 10+ years. Although these figure are reviewed every 12 months I believe current forecasts are far to optimistic. By operating at maximum debt levels and optimistic growth forecasts there is no room for any downside in the national or global economy. With sovereign debt issues around the globe there is in my opinion a significant risk that the cost of debt has the potential to increase dramatically. If this were to happen the council would have no choice but to increase rates and cut services to pay for the increased cost of debt. This is in my opinion irresponsible and could severely and negatively affect the quality of life for a large section of our community.
Adopting a fiscally responsible position to hedge against an increase in the cost of debt is simply (in the short term at least) a matter of reducing spending and cutting costs. I say costs and not services because I don't believe the council has made any real attempt at reducing it's running costs or renegotiating contracts with suppliers. This should be of concern to everyone. Economists around the world talk of a "new normal" we should adjust our economic models to at least factor in some of these new risks.
- Katikati Town Centre Plan
With the results of the submissions out 51% of the community were Ok with the closing of the library and 49% were against. Some groups within the community voted with the OK crowd because they were under the misapprehension that the old library would be given to them or the community certainly not sold. I believe the plans for the new town centre should be shelved until firstly we have a buffer against any increases in debt or further falls in asset values which would necessitate immediate rate increases and secondly until the Northern Tauranga route has had time to be distilled. We need to look at national indicators to understand the direction Katikati is headed. That is with heavier trucks now being licensed, the strong possibility that the Port of Tauranga will process the new super cargo ships , the eastern corridor , the K road to TePuna , northern transport corridors will have to be addressed. It is more than possible that a by-pass of Katikati will happen by default. If we split the town now it will not be possible to put it back together afterwards and if it were possible it will have been a huge waste of money.
- Council Office / Library/i-site revamp
Knowing now that the council intends to sell the library building the revamp seems to be even more of a waste of money. Leaving the lack of consultation out and the lack of any acknowledgement of the history of the building and the communities involvement over the years this would seem to be a massive PR blunder. I am of the opinion that the i-site is perhaps the singularly most important office in town. As to the new town centre plan the i-site hasn't even been mentioned. Although only a desk it is Katikati's window to the rest of the world, has a strong community presence, promoting community projects, the arts and local business to tourists. It has to be sited on the main road, it has to have parking and preferably coach parking , toilets etc. The location is great where it is. I would like to see council take the i-site more seriously as I would parking and the issues around the by-pass and new town centre plan.
- Kauri Point Boat Ramp.
I am concerned about this proposed boat ramp for a number of reasons. Firstly the necessity of it , secondly the cost, thirdly the perceived reasons for it and fourthly the way it has kept popping up on the 10 year plan after widespread consultation and it's removal.
I would like to see our two existing boat ramps made safe ( for one to raise the edges/widen to stop people/cars falling off ). I'd like to see the regional council take full control of the harbour including access to ensure there is well developed policy.
My expertise is in technology and systems. I am a qualified systems analyst and have worked for multinational banks in roles as both systems and business analysis as well as project and development management roles. Information technology tools available to us today to communicate between ourselves as individuals and as groups are unlike any communications we have ever had before. This technology to allow the open exchange of information helps form the corner stone of democracy.
I would like to see the Katikati community open on-line dialogue through forums/networking systems with our community and our elected councillors for all to participate.
If we all engage with information technology systems we can collectively raise issues, instigate projects, monitor actions, manage our interest groups and utimately manage our elected representatives so they are solely and efficiently working for the community.
I would like to study and understand the terms of engagement other local authorities have with their communities with an objective of perhaps helping to reform ours to at least adopt a national standard. If I am elected as a community board member this role would give me a valuable insight into it's strengths and weaknesses. I will welcome the opportunity to work with the WBOPDC and all it's elected members as well as the community, not to be critical of council or community but to offer my experience and expertise to help drive the region and community towards common goals via an active and strong democratic process.
Within the community and public service we collectively have a huge amount of experience and expertise, with full engagement between community and council our community will thrive. This can only be a force for good and a force to strengthen the democratic process.
Authorised by Scott Robertson of 263 Walker Road East Katikati
Results - Final
- Brendan Gibbs
- Sam Dunlop
- Bruce Duske
- Norm Mayo
- George Van Dyke
- Brian Anderson
- Thys Polstra
- Pam Murray
- Scott Robertson