Mad as hatters
The Rodney Local Board (read Rodney Loony Board) wants to add a targeted rate increase of $150 for Rodney residents (MM March 28). A small portion of the $41 million raised will be spent on a Park and Ride for Warkworth. The Board seem blissfully unaware that we have two huge Park and Rides in the area. The parks are on Sandspit Road and Matakana Road, and when you get your rate demand from Auckland Council they take you for a ride. There is a very good reason that Auckland Council limit how much money the well-meaning amateurs on the Local Boards have to spend because they would be off spending the money like drunken sailors. One of the loony board members said those who do not want to pay do not have to. Please put me down as a ratepayer who does not want to.
Chas Benest, Snells Beach
Take note RLB
To the Rodney Local Board: With regard to your suggestion for a targeted rate on Rodney residents (MM March 28), I would suggest that you consider the following points: Given that our Supercity, benefiting from “economies of scale”, has about twice the number of wage and salary earners as a comparable Australian city; and given that the budget for salary and wages has blown-out by many tens of millions of dollars over recent years – and these funds alone would have sealed most of Rodney’s roads; and given that the stench of the corruption of Araparera is still fresh in the nostrils of our ratepayers, it might be timely to remind the board that their primary function is to ensure that the ratepayers they represent get value for money from their hard-earned dollars. I would put forward to the board the following scenario which should be the only generally accepted means to introduce a targeted rate: Specific defined projects; defined time-lines; defined completion dates. Rates should only be collected when the above guidelines are met.
Patrick Neeley, Tapora (abridged)
Admission of failure
The targeted rates currently being proposed by the Rodney Local Board and The Auckland Council to accelerate delivery of transport infrastructure improvements are giving me a sense of deja vu. They are reminiscent of a similar action many years ago by the previous Rodney District Council when they implemented the user pays system for rubbish collection and disposal. The RDC proudly advertised a zero percent rates increase for the upcoming calendar year on the front page of the Rodney Times. In the same issue, two pages back, a smaller article contained a less bold announcement of the implementation of user pays for our refuse collection and disposal. When one counted the annual cost of 52 Council trash sacks, and a nominal one or two trips to the tip with a trailer, it totalled to a sum equivalent to a 4 to 5 per cent increase on an average household's rates. So while our general rates remained the same, the user pays system added 4 to 5 per cent to our rates burden. After being shamed over this sleight of hand, the Council reluctantly acknowledged the de facto rates increase. Now we have targeted rates ... the modern “nothing up my sleeve” version of “we're keeping your rates increase low”. What the Council is actually saying to us is: (1) We are going to keep all the rates we already take from you. (2) We will continue to spend it in an urban centric way. (3) We will add another 2.5 per cent to your general rates this year and slap a targeted rate on top, and (4) If you don't accept the targeted rate, you can expect your local transport infrastructure to remain in serious deficit and lag behind the development we've programmed for your area. It feels more like a threat than a proposal to me. I feel that the advent of targeted rates is an admission that the Council's financial planning has failed. To date, it has not delivered a fair return on rates to the rural areas of the supercity. And finally, if the Council's financial planners were doing their jobs properly we would not have to require a targeted rate in order to receive a guarantee that a fair portion of our rates was spent on our local infrastructure and services.
Jim Fletcher, Matakana
Tracey, do your job
Tracey Martin has clearly spit the dummy when it comes to representing the local community on prioritising improvements to the Hill Street intersection (MM March 28). She is quoted as saying, “[It is] very difficult for me to argue [Hill Street is] an urgent matter with the current government, as I am not the locally elected representative. The people of this area, through their vote, quite clearly said they were happy with the previous member’s representation”. Ms Martin needs to recognise she has a responsibility to all voters, not just those that voted NZ First; or is she only in government to promote partisan politics? Is Ms Martin saying that the traffic chaos caused by the Hill Street intersection will only be a priority for her if we vote for her? Part of NZ First policy was to make Hill Street a priority. Why is Ms Martin now refusing to do her job? Being a list MP does not absolve her from advocating for, as a matter of urgency, Hill Street improvements.
A. Sullivan, Snells Beach
On Wednesday April 4 it took my partner 50 minutes travelling from Matakana Village to Hill Street. And it took me 25 minutes, sitting behind a truck laying cones at 5kmh along Matakana Road. I am dumbfounded at the shambles and the serious inconvenience that motorists trying to get to work, get kids to school, get to doctors’ appointments and so forth experienced. Is it beyond the mental midgets that manage road works to engage with the community in a more proactive manner? Why not advertise what your project is on social media, or at the very least put signs at both ends of Matakana and Warkworth advising a timetable, start and finish times and duration of works to allow folk to plan around it? Maybe someone could suggest that the work is done at night as it is overseas. Silly me. What was I thinking? Seriously guys get a grip and get proactive in your function. At present whoever is scheduling this work needs a slap. We all appreciate that road works need to be done but stop compounding the issue by ignoring the needs of the community when there are a variety of media platform available to you to advise in detail what you are planning.
Brian Corbett, Matakana
Auckland Transport spokesperson Mark Hannan replies: We apologise for any inconvenience. The Matakana Road resealing was a one-day operation and was all over before school was out. The job was done during the day because it is easier to control the quality of the seal when it is dry and warm. There was a letter drop to local residents and an electronic message board was placed at the side of the road in the days before the work was done.
The Riverside Dinner held last month was organised jointly by Warkworth Lions and Mahurangi Sunrise Rotary, not Warkworth Rotary as stated in last issue.