From Greg Gent, Kaipara Mayor, On behalf of Council
Hello all. Another year is almost at an end and, from a Kaipara perspective, a year that has seen us return to democracy. Your Councillors have been very active with a lot of days spent learning about the workings of Council and our district. A big thank you to those groups who have taken the time to come and present or talk to us.
The New Year will see a change in focus. We will spend time considering what we would like to do in the various communities, obviously in our case within our financial constraints.
We are now a number of months into the financial year and at this time are running better than budget. Some of this is timing with the very wet late spring period holding up some roading work but some is that costs are lower than predicted. The budget the Commissioners left us had a very small operating surplus of $200,000, which would effectively reduce debt. We would aim to do better than that.
This area has been a big learning curve for me and I suspect all new Councillors. Our roading is paid for jointly by ourselves (40 percent) and the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) (60 percent). This funding structure is a real motivator to spend on roading and of course roading is our single biggest cost centre by far.
NZTA funding is contingent on them accepting what we are proposing to do. It is also contingent on getting quotes for the work including our 40 percent. That makes it close to impossible to employ, directly, our own roading people and that is why all roading work is contracted. If we employed, for example, our own grader drivers we could be in a situation of missing a tender but still carry their overhead.
The population of the area will increase by approximately 60 percent over the holiday period which demonstrates how ‘peaky’ the needs of that community are. In the New Year the group working on the Town Plan will present a draft to us. This will be a process all residents will need to participate in.
At our last Council meeting we approved the upgrade of the small freshwater reticulation system Council operates, for a cost of $275,000.
Kai Iwi Lakes
Likewise a large lift in people here. Northland Regional Council has recently installed buoys as ski lanes on Lake Taharoa which should make the situation safer. To those users of the lake please check for any weeds on your boat hull before launching.
Kauri Coast Community Pool in Dargaville
Late January the Chief Executive and I will meet with the Trustees of the pool. We will explore opportunities for its future. Currently it costs around $250,000 per annum to operate. This figure does not include depreciation which, as we know, one will eventually need to spend. In the interim Council will be aiming to get a better understanding and profile of those who use the facility.
For those who can get a break over the Christmas period, enjoy yourselves and be safe. For the rest I hope you get some time with family and friends. Kaipara has some great attractions – its three museums, the beaches, the lakes, the forest and numerous walking tracks. Sometimes the best things are closest to home. Enjoy and explore our great region.