Tag Archives: development contributions

Will Horowhenua ratepayers be paying for new water systems?… a demand created by land developers whom Council have exempted from Development Contributions

Information on financial impacts of new water and waste water systems still not available: All ratepayers potentially impacted.

Horowhenua District Council has refused to answer a direct question on the expected financial impact on ratepayers if new water and waste water systems are installed in five targeted areas including Waitarere, Hokio, Ohau, Manakau and Levin.

In response to a question asking for the impact “in dollar terms” Mr Clapperton replied, “Page 18 of the Consultation Document [2018-2038 Long Term Plan] explains the annual increase in rates for all households in the district currently connected to water.

“Within the new infrastructure settlements rates would increase by more since they would begin to pay the Water Supply Targeted rate when they start to receive this service.”

The service is forecasted to be delivered between 2027 and 2036. Waitarere has a waste water system but no water system.

As if Mr Clapperton’s answer isn’t confusing enough page 18 of the consultation document contains a table which includes the expected rates increases in each targeted area which gives the impression only the rate where the ratepayer lives will be applied.

However, the consultation document also makes the statement, “This additional service would mean an increase…for ALL [emphasis mine] households in the Horowhenua District who are connected to water [and waste water] services.”

A resident living in one of the targeted areas said in a conversation she had with the council’s asset manager engineer Sarie Van der Walt, the LTP contact on infrastructure included in the consultation document, ratepayers would be charged all the rates increases in the targeted area; not just the rate increase for the area where they lived.

Combined the total amounts to an expected $646.70 annual increase in rates but this is still less than half the amount councillor Christine Mitchell said rates are likely to increase in Waikawa Beach if new water and waste water systems are built.

Cr Mitchell reportedly made the comment at the last Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association AGM in December 2017 which was included in the WBRA newsletter as a predicted $1500 annual increase. She has not responded to requests for comment.

The council has therefore been asked the same question again to provide dollar figures for the expected rates impact if council’s preferred option of installing new water and waste water systems is adopted by council.

If ALL ratepayers connected to water and waste water systems are affected this could also impact ratepayers in all the other areas including Levin, Foxton, Foxton Beach, Tokomaru and Shannon.

Existing ratepayers are concerned they are having to pay for a demand created by land developers who have not had to pay one cent towards essential infrastructure costs since council cancelled development contributions in 2015.

In answer to this inequity Mr Clapperton said, “Council will be looking at several options to assist with funding growth-related projects, Development Contributions being one of the options available.”

However in the consultation document council says it won’t be considering the reintroduction of development contributions paid by land developers towards essential infrastructure until year 2019-2020.

Submissions on the consultation 20 year Long Term Plan close on March 26. The same day as consultations on the 2040 draft Growth Plan and Earthquake prone buildings also closes.

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Horowhenua: a political environment where the tail wags the dog … the steady erosion of democracy in Aotearoa

By Veronica Harrod
January 15

Horowhenua: a political environment where the tail wags the dog

“…the majority of Horowhenua residents are increasingly finding themselves caught in a ‘tail wagging the dog’ political environment where the economic development board is the tail determining the direction and decisions of council which is the dog and not a very friendly dog at that.”

Four days after an Official Information Act request was made for the 2016 and 2017 Horowhenua District Council economic development board minutes the council removed information about the economic development board from its website.
Council’s communications advisor Trish Hayward said, “Council is in the process of updating the information, layout and photographs on the Horowhenua Economic Development Board page of our website. The page has been temporarily deactivated while the update is carried out. We expect the update to be complete, and the page to be reactivated, early this year.”

Former mayor Brendan Duffy led the charge to bring the economic development board’s predecessor Enterprise Horowhenua back under council control and Mr Duffy features prominently in Horowhenua’s economic development 2014-2017 strategy which is referred to as, “a ten year vision to guide three year outcomes, priorities, actions and initiatives..”
The council document states the strategy was developed “with business as well as the council, regional council, central government and our key partners.” The intention of council to take, “an active role…by leading the development of this strategy, and committing to its priority actions” was signed off by Mr Duffy despite the fact residents were not consulted.
A key initiative of the strategy to, “review council’s development contributions policy to support Horowhenua’s economic development agenda” is indicative of the amount of influence the strategy has over the direction and decisions council makes that reverberates today.
Two other key initiatives which resonate today include an intention to, “create opportunities to ‘catalyse’ economic development through an aligned property assets strategy” which is one of the main reasons the economic development board wants to set up a Trust and, “Identify and develop mechanisms to help create a more business-friendly culture within Council.”
Council employs an economic development manager Shanon Grainger, a growth response project manager Daniel Haigh and has recently appointed a “customer and development enabler” Melissa Hanson, a role that council says in a press release has been created specifically to, “provide a more personalised service to valued business customers.”
On development contributions council didn’t just review contributions land developers used to make toward essential infrastructure (including water and waste water) it canned them in 2015 further enabling the roll out of a plethora of land development projects many of which are outlined in the 2008 Horowhenua Development Plan.

The public was not consulted on the 2008 Horowhenua Development Plan either, instead publicly excluded workshops were held with land developers.

This means two very influential documents created by the few (and, arguably, for the few) are having a disproportionate amount of power and influence over decisions made by council. The fact both documents continue to be so influential today indicates main players inside council remain determined to continue an agenda the public have been excluded from commenting on or being consulted about as is required under the Local Government Act.

Instead the majority of Horowhenua residents are increasingly finding themselves caught in a ‘tail wagging the dog’ political environment where the economic development board is the tail determining the direction and decisions of council which is the dog and not a very friendly dog at that.

The strategy states an intention to take, “economic development…to the centre of council’s actions” but the economic development board does not have a mandate to do so because it isn’t bound by the Local Government Act, or its legal requirement to consult or be transparent and accountable in its actions and motivations.

WHO ARE THE MAIN PLAYERS?

So who are the main players in this tail wagging the dog political environment? The shadows who prefer to maintain secrecy about decisions they are making as a board to such an extent that council clearly agreed to remove information about them from the council website.
The only public face is economic development board chair Cameron Lewis, a director on the board of local asparagus grower Tendertips. He is often quoted in council press releases extolling “growth” happening in the district despite the fact the majority of “growth” indicators are forecasted, estimated and expected not growth in real or actual terms. But the “growth” rhetoric advances the land development agenda of council which is why it is so convenient.
Second cab off the rank is economic development board deputy chair Wayne Bishop who has multi-million dollar land and property development interests across New Zealand and in Horowhenua.
It appears to be his job to ensure the economic development strategy gains momentum around the council table which he is clearly very effective at doing as his appointment to the role of deputy mayor confirms. He essentially has eight of the ten councillors on-side and troubleshoots for the board when required which he is also very effective at doing.
Although he is in public office he is projected to financially benefit by the cancellation of development contributions by at least $2 million based on estimated figures of $15,000 per new build including $750,000 from the projected 500 house sub-division Speldhurst Country Estate in Kimberley Road alone.
Although those standing for public office are not supposed to financially benefit from political decisions – doing so has a name we are not allowed to publicly state for some reason- yet this behaviour is not only tolerated but condoned.
Also on the board is Levana chief executive Andy Wynne, advertising and digital media executive Antony Young who formerly worked as Asia regional director for Saatchi & Saatchi, Horowhenua district councillor and Horowhenua Learning Centre operations manager Barry Judd, engineering company Stevensons Group managing director Evan Kroll, Ellison Group investment company managing director Larry Ellison of Foxton, Horowhenua councillor Piri-Hira Tukapua and managing director of Turk’s Poultry in Foxton Ron Turk.
While deputy chair of the board and council’s deputy mayor Wayne Bishop appears to be the economic development board’s inside man controlling governance issues council’s chief executive David Clapperton appears to act as the economic development board’s inside man controlling operational and management issues. The fractious and obstructive relationship he has with mayor Feyen who was democratically elected in local body elections in 2016 indicates he remains committed to the task he’s been delegated.
But a political environment where the tail wags the dog makes Horowhenua look more like it is governed by an oligarchy – where the few have taken control of an organisation – rather than a democracy which is why this increasingly out of control juggernaut needs to be challenged at the highest levels.

 



Veronica Harrod
is a qualified journalist with a Master of Communications specialising in traditional and new media content. Investigating and reporting on political, economic and legislative trends that negatively impact on the day to day lives of people is one of her main areas of interest. Lifestyle content she is interested in includes celebrating our own especially the tireless work community advocates do as civil citizens participating in democracy to keep those in power on their toes. In a media age dominated by a multi billion dollar communications and public relations industry paid to manipulate information to protect and advance the interests of the few over the many there have to be journalists who are impervious to the all pervasive influencial role they have over local and central government and corporate interests.

For more information on Veronica’s professional qualifications see her Facebook page.


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Joining the dots at Horowhenua District Council: What mainstream isn’t telling you

From kapitiindpendentnews.net.nz

Slugging it out in the Horowhenua

by Veronica Harrod

What is happening in the small neck of the woods called the Horowhenua is a power struggle between conflicting agendas.

On one side of the boxing ring stands Horowhenua District Council Mayor Michael Feyen, supported by councillor Ross Campbell holding the towel and the water bottle in the background.

On the other side of the boxing ring stands deputy mayor Wayne Bishop with his supporters; the eight remaining councillors (although there are signs the amount of blood being spilled is getting too much for some).


The ref is the CEO!

Unfortunately for Mayor Feyen the referee of the boxing match is council’s chief executive David Clapperton, which is why the result will always seem to be in Cr Bishop’s favour because both Cr Bishop and Mr Clapperton have mutually beneficial interests. Mayor Feyen alluded to the source of the power struggle in comments to the media when he said, “There seems to be much at stake for some in council…and that he had ‘severe concerns’ about conflicts of interest within the council.”

 

READ MORE

http://kapitiindependentnews.net.nz/horowhenua-horror-bout/#comment-706283

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