A Curia/Tauranga Ratepayers’ Alliance poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Tauranga residents support holding council elections this year.
A Curia/Tauranga Ratepayers’ Alliance poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Tauranga residents support holding council elections this year.
So much is happening behind closed doors and too often in Tauranga we ratepayers are the last to hear about it.
Thank you for your continued support in the battle to return democracy to Tauranga. We’ve been active in the background and would like to share the latest news.
As some of you may know, members of the steering group joined the Water Users Group and were initial signatories to the High Court action seeking clarification on Nanaia Mahuta’s Three Waters proposal. We did this on behalf of the people of Tauranga, and all the other ratepayers whose councils were duped into ‘consulting’ on this government’s pre-determined path of asset theft. That action is ongoing, we encourage anyone with an interest to sign up for updates.
You might also note that the week after this action was filed Minister Mahuta put the Three Waters proposal into review but did not allow any of the elements including co-governance or asset ownership to be discussed.
As a natural part of our evolution the Tauranga Ratepayers' Alliance was incorporated early in 2022, and will follow on with election of roles, committee members and growing our efforts.
Long-Term Plan and submissions on the Civic Renewal proposal
Some of you will be aware of the Council’s current roadshow, discussing alternative ways to pay for their proposed Civic redevelopment. What they won’t discuss is that there are no guaranteed or even proposed measures of success for the cost of $303 million. Note that the cost is $2000 per person for the population of Tauranga.
The Council material talks about pumping the city and returning the beating heart of Tauranga. What it omits is that most of the new occupants already inhabit the civic precinct and none bring people to the city centre. Council services are online with little reason for humans to interact or visit Council Chambers, the library already exists as a drop-in centre for vagrants while books are moving into the digital space, the Art Gallery gets most of its numbers from bused-in visits by school children… a museum would have the same profile. BayCourt already brings short bursts of visitors and that won’t change with a facelift. None of these functions will change with millions of dollars of brutalist paving.
It reflects that the Commissioners have no business experience and that there are no critical voices in the chamber. For the record, the Tauranga Ratepayers' Alliance is not against a museum for Tauranga, but rather that if it honestly shows the complex and traumatic history of the region it will not draw visitors after the compulsory school visits and will not bring people for repeat and casual visits to a new ‘heart of the city’.
We urge members to feedback their concerns to the ‘consultation’ process: Click here to make a submission.
With the removal of elections for Tauranga we are focusing our major efforts on the return of democracy to Tauranga, ideally in time for October 2022. There are a range of actions.
On the initial appointment of the Commissioners a legal opinion was sought and paid for privately. It outlined some genuine concerns about the statutory basis for the appointment of commissioners. At that time the duration of the term and likely cost meant it was not practical to pursue a court case.
As we speak an updated opinion has been commissioned, funded privately. We expect it will expand on the first. If that is the case, we will seriously consider a formal legal challenge. These exercises are expensive, we will be seeking donations and support from our base and the residents of Tauranga. If any members have experience in the space of a judicial review, please contact the Secretary at [email protected] or reply to this email.
With the impending by-election for Tauranga, we know that democracy will be a major election issue. We urge all Tauranga Ratepayers' Alliance supporters and ratepayers to support a return to democracy. You can support your preferred candidate, you can ask questions, you can write letter to the editors, speak out on social and to other media.
You can fairly ask any Labour candidate about their participation in an election considering the Government’s disdain for democratic process.
Letter to the Minister
You might consider a letter to the Minister Mahuta outlining your thoughts and feedback on her unprecedented action to remove democracy from Tauranga City Council. We know that most of the support for the action came from the Commissioners themselves and other entities being funded by Council such as Priority One, the Chamber of Commerce / Business Tauranga and the UTF.
The minister’s email address is [email protected].
We will inform you all shortly of updates. If any have interest in participating in the Committee please reply to this email or contact the Secretary.
Tauranga Ratepayers' Alliance
The Tauranga Ratepayers' Alliance is calling on the Tauranga City Commissioners to acknowledge that there is a cost of living crisis in the city, and is urging like-minded residents to support the Alliance's submission to Council’s budget by going to www.TaurangaRates.nz.
The Commission need to alter their proposed rates increase this year to reflect the cost of living crisis and to help business recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Ratepayers Alliance is calling on the Commission to reduce the 13.7% total rates increase proposed this year in their 2021-2031 Long Term Plan Amendment. The Commission has budgeted an extra $9m for staff salaries and an extra $4m for consultants this year. This is on top of the $11m increase for staff salaries and $9m more for consultants the Commission approved last year. The public sector and their consultants shouldn't be benefiting from the removal of local democracy at this difficult time for ratepayers.
One way the Commission can show leadership and understanding for the high cost of living of that ratepayers are facing is by cutting back their own expenses.
Anne Tolley claimed nearly $358,200 in fees over the last 12 months and she claimed $35,565 in expenses on top. This is twice as much as we were told it would cost when she was appointed. We are calling on Commissioners to forego their expense claims, totalling $71,000 because they are well remunerated and it would show some empathy for the costs they are adding to resident's budgets.
Commissioners Tolley & Selwood both claim $750 per week from the ratepayer due to the high cost of living in Tauranga. They need to understand the effect of their rate increases on the average person’s cost of living, average people who don't get $750 a week gifted to them.
Sun Media is open to receiving emails to the Editor on important topics, including community viewpoints on the removal and need to return democracy to Tauranga City Council.
Emails should be addressed to [email protected] with a short sharp message of 200 words maximum.
The Tauranga Ratepayers' Alliance is calling on Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta to preserve the democratic rights of Tauranga ratepayers and residents by not cancelling local elections this year.
The Minister promised to return Tauranga to full democracy in October 2022 and we think she should keep her promise. But if the Commissioners have their way, Tauranga will be the only Council not to have an election in October. Anne Tolley, Stephen Selwood, Shad Rolleston and Bill Wasley asked the Minister to cancel local elections in December without consulting Tauranga residents.
The Commissioners never consulted with anyone before asking the Minister to extend their high paying jobs for another year. They are paid between $1,500 and $1,800 a day plus expenses and Commission Chair Anne Tolley has claimed in excess of $300,000 over the last twelve months.
They don't have any incentive to leave. Our right to vote was won at a great price and we're not going to let them take it away again, that's why we've started this petition and we will be presenting it to Parliament. It's time for Tauranga residents and ratepayers to get their rights back.
Recently reported budget blowouts under the Commission's watch saw $30m more for Cameron Road and over $3m more for the Elizabeth St projects. If they've claimed twice as much as they were supposed to in expenses what hope is there that they can stick to a budget for a $300m+ museum?
The Commission's duty was to keep the city running until democratic elections could be held. They've gone far beyond their mandate and it's time for the people of Tauranga to decide what our priorities are, not Wellington.
Read more below.
Wards, councillors and community boards
IT’S NOT OVER YET !!!
The Council's not-so-final decision.
In a full page piece in the Bay of Plenty Times, the council has given public notice of its Final Proposal (FP) for what the unelected commissioners want to be the city's representation system to be until 2028. But, what the council does not make clear in this huge passage of tightly packed words is that the final decision about what Tauranga's system of wards, councillors and boards will look like from next year onwards will be made by the Local Government Commission (LGC), not the council. The TCC commissioners’ decision will not be the final one made on this subject.
Every resident has the right to appeal or object to the LGC against the council's FP. The appeal or objection may be against the whole of the FP or only parts of it. The LGC will consider all appeals and objections and make its own determination about what the system should be. There's more about this further on in this memorandum.
What the council wants.
Getting back to the FP; the council has decided to stick with its own Initial Proposal (IP) of 8 general wards, each with 1 councillor, a Maori ward (which has already been established and cannot be objected against) and a mayor. Each of the general ward councillors will represent appeoximately17,000 residents. Community boards will not be established.
If this system becomes effective residents will be able to vote for & have access to no more than1 out of the 9 councillors - their ward councillor. Too bad if your ward councillor turns out to be a dunce or a council stooge!
This is not a democratic system! It disenfranchises voters. It waters down to the lowest level the right of residents to choose which people will represent them as councillors.
A possible consequence if the council's system comes into effect could be that residents lose interest in in taking part in such weak elections. Voter participation could fall to lower levels than we have ever had before. Democracy is about as many of the people affected by government taking part in its processes That's why a good voter turn-out is important.
Under the current system (suspended when the commissioners were appointed) there are 3 general wards, each with 2 councillors, 4 at-large (city-wide) councillors and a mayor. Residents could vote for and had access to 6 councillors.
Many submissions were made to the council's Initial Proposal and 14 of the submitters who opposed it made oral presentations to the commissioners. What most of the submitters saw as the major flaw in the IP was the fact that there were too many wards, that residents could vote for and have access to only 1 out of the 10 councillors, and that it did not include at-large councillors. Various alternatives were presented by the submitters and all of them gave voters greater powers. Some gave voters the right to vote for and have access to up to as many as 11 councillors. The commissioners rejected all of these submissions.
The council has also decided that community boards should not be established in any part of Tauranga. Here are a few things you should know about community boards: they are not another level of council bureaucracy- boards are community organisations not council organisations, running costs are low - if boards had been in place before now they could have saved Tauranga ratepayers a fortune by preventing some of the council project disasters, boards are better placed than councils to know how to handle local climate change challenges - something that we are going to have to deal with sooner rather than later, boards provide a place and opportunity for locals to have their say openly in surroundings in which they feel comfortable, board members are required by statute to advocate on for local needs and preferences - councillors have no such obligation.
Your LAST chance to have a say.
The council has announced the that the consultation period on the FP will run from the 12th of November until the 13th of December. This is your chance, your last chance, to have your say about how you want to be represented on council. You won't get another chance until 2028.
These are things you need to know:
1. Opposing the council's proposed system is not a waste of time! The power to make a final determination as to whether or not the Final Proposal will come into effect has now passed out of the council's hands. That power now rests with the Local Government Commission (LGC), which is not there to simply rubber stamp the staff and council's decision. The LGC considers residents' views as well as the council's views and forms its own opinion.
There have been many recent cases of the LGC stepping in to make significant changes to councils' FPs. In 2019 the LGC determined that the Hutt City Council would not consist of 12 ward councillors, which is what the council wanted. Instead it allowed 6 wards councillors and created 6 at-large councillor positions to provide better city-wide representation. In the same year the LGC turned down the Western Bay of Plenty District Council's proposal to disestablish its community boards and confirmed that they should remain in place and even went so far as to say that the council should consider establishing more boards.
2. Anyone who made a submission - written or oral - to the IP may lodge an appeal if they disagree with the Final Proposal. Their appeal must stick to the matters they raised in their original submission. However, if a submitter to the IP finds something in the FP they disagree with but did not cover in their original submission they can lodge an objection against that matter too.
3. People who did not submit to the IP, but disagree with it, or just a particular part of it, can lodge an objection specifying the nature of their objection and, if they like, suggesting what they think would work better. What this means is that virtually any resident can object to the FP. And should do so!
4. A ground for appeal or objection that should not be overlooked is that the boundaries for the council's 8 general wards do not coincide with so-called communities of interest, or, to put it simply, they are in the wrong place, they do not represent what any common sense person would regard as communities of interest.
For example, the council has decreed that Greerton should be split into two parts: the northern side of Chadwick road will belong to the Te Papa ward and the southern side will belong to the Tauriko ward. How do Greerton people feel about that? Judea and Bethlehem are deemed by the council to comprise one community of interest and will make up the Bethlehem ward. Really! The council has calculated that Arataki is just as big as the Mount and Papamoa and should be a ward on its own. How did they work that one out?
5. The easiest way to find out what the council's final proposal is all about and determine whether or not you agree with it is to look through the page that was posted on the council's website on 12/11/21. Google Tauranga city council elections review and it will come up.
6. There is not a response form on the website.
You can make your objection by …
(a) sending an email to [email protected], or
(b) posting a letter to the council at Private Bag12022, Tauranga 3143, or
(c) dropping a letter off at any library or at the council customer service office in Willow Street.
Remember, the consultation period ends at 5pm on Monday the 13th of December. Your appeal or objection must be in by then.
It doesn’t have to be in clever language. Direct and to the point (without being abusive) is best. It’s YOUR opinion.
The council must send all appeals and objections to the Local Government Commission; it cannot pick and choose which ones it forwards.
7. If you are not sure what kind of system is best, you can look at the other options that the council considered. They are shown on the council's webpage. Of course, you can out forward your own ideas about what would be a better system. Don't worry too much about detail; just say what you think as clearly as you can. This is not a literary contest.
You might like to consider asking for 1 city-wide ward with a mix of 4 ward and 7 at-large councillors. That could give general roll electors the right to vote up to 11 councillors and Maori roll electors up to 8 councillors. A system very much like this was the outright winner in the feedback survey that the council carried out but, as usual, the council ignored the public's opinion.
8. And, don't forget about community boards. If you are in favour of having genuine community input into Tauranga's governance system, ask for community boards to be established. They have proved valuable elsewhere
The LGC's appeals and objections process is not like the so-called consultation process carried out by the Tauranga City Council in which it sets the rules and then acts as judge, jury and executioner. This is an opportunity to have an independent body pay proper attention to what the community thinks and make an unbiased decision. It’s called democracy. As said earlier, the LGC is not there to rubber stamp staff and council proposals, it will form its own opinions, and your input will help it to do that.
This is your chance - your last opportunity until 2028 - to play a part in deciding how your council representatives will be elected for the next two terms of government, how many of them you will be able to vote for and will have access to, if there is going to be any genuine grassroots contribution to governance through community boards. Don't miss out on this opportunity. Write to the council with your ideas and let the LGC make the final decision.