As the year comes to a close and the festive season begins, Commissioners wish all who live in or who have holiday properties in the Kaipara District the very best of wishes. The pressures felt by many of us as the year comes to a close will quickly, one expects, be replaced by a little rest and recreation.
Kaipara gets plenty of visitors through the summer months. If you are in Mangawhai, enjoy the harbour and beach. If you have time to explore further, you can visit bays on the Kaipara Harbour, like Pahi, or Tinopai or Whakapirau. And of course, if you have never visited the Kauri Museum at Matakohe, this is a must.
Commissioners were appointed to govern the Kaipara District Council a little over a year ago. It has been a hard road, but a rewarding one, as we have worked alongside Kaipara residents and Council staff to help direct the Council’s recovery. Council is getting itself into good shape. Council’s books are balanced, and debt is decreasing. Communities are responding positively, as Council engages to support their wellbeing.
In December 2013, two milestones were reached. The Auditor General finally completed her report on the Mangawhai Wastewater Scheme. It tells a story of poor governance, management and advice. Council and other parties let the community down. Secondly, Parliament voted overwhelmingly to support Kaipara to fix up some of its poor rating history. A special Kaipara Bill was passed into law.
At some point the past will no longer be the focus of conversation and the future will be where we place all our efforts. But we are not there yet. At the Council meeting on December 17, Commissioners attended to a number of important matters.
Auditor General Inquiry:
Council is investigating and taking legal advice on the question of whether it can hold individuals or organisations to account for some of the issues uncovered in the inquiry.
Capital Works Programmes and the release for community projects of developer reserve contributions:
On the expectation that those who have been withholding rates will now pay them, now that the validity of past rates has been cleared up by Parliament, Council released its plans to catch up on millions of dollars of deferred capital expenditure and to invest in community projects.
Remissions on penalties:
During the Select Committee process when Parliament was considering the Kaipara Bill, Members of Parliament encouraged the Commissioners to consider the waiving of certain penalties imposed on ratepayers who were late with their payments. We have done so. Council will:
* Remit back to ratepayers who had balances outstanding on 30 June 2012 the “further penalty” charged to their account in March 2013.
* Remit back to ratepayers who had balances outstanding on 30 June 2013 the “further penalty” charged to their account in July 2013.
In addition to this, the January 2014 “further penalty”, will be charged on accounts where ratepayers have not paid their previous years’ arrears at 31 December this year. However, this penalty will be remitted if the account is brought fully up to date by 30 June 2014.
Commissioners recognise that those ratepayers who keep current with their rates may not be happy with the decision to waive these penalties on those who have held back their rates. We understand the points of view of both groups – those penalised, and those not penalised.
No one wins from a split community. We ask all property owners to accept this outcome. In the spirit of Christmas we need to heal this division and to move on.
Wishing you the best for the festive season,
On behalf of Commissioners