NZ Wide Issues

Promoting Awareness about Local Government in New Zealand

A number of projects though-out New Zealand are significantly under scoped financially, resulting in a significant rate increase and/or debt level to future generations.

Depreciation is being collected from Ratepayers to fund existing assets, yet systemic failures are occurring. Is depreciation being applied to aging assets that require replacement?

This is a sign of inadequate skills being applied to the risk assessment process, little or no Geotech investigation, lack of accountability between the community, elected members and Chief Executive and totally inadequate contract management.

The basis of the ratepayer being able to afford whatever level the rate is set is in total conflict with the Community well-being requirement. 

The other major concern is the lack of understanding about New Zealand and how the World economy impacts financial decisions at the local level. Covid-19 is a recent example, compounded by the lack of economic resolution to the Global Financial crisis that occurred a number of years ago.

Experience tells the community that official's do not care about the community well-being, investigations by watch-dog agencies result in little or no action, with enquiries being passed from one agency to another with no resolution.

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Economic Indicators

The world and New Zealand economy never recovered from the Global Financial crisis. The lack of recovery and the new threat of Covid-19 puts additional pressure of the economic system.

The stories in this section are written by economists and others to inform the reader about the economic health and risks facing us today.

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Government Infrastructure Problems

Wellington Transmission Gully: The New Zealand Transport Agency appears to be planning for a future where Transmission Gully could go ahead with a different set of builders.

Sources close to the project say lockdown has given companies associated with Transmission Gully an out After delays, an earthquake, storms, cost blow-outs and legal disputes, a much-vaunted public-private partnership for the Wellington region could come to an end next week. 
A clause within the PPP partnership agreement allows the road's builders CPB and HEB to walk away from the $1b Transmission Gully project if they've been locked out of the site for two months.

The Transmission Gully fiasco lays bare the folly of public-private partnerships: When announcing the cost blowout to over $1 billion in February this year, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) tried to soften the blow a little by announcing the road would be open by Christmas. But then, like all projects around the country, Transmission Gully was put on hold in March as part of the government’s response to Covid-19. Now, as construction ramps up again, Transmission Gully seems to have a unique problem: many of its workers are no longer in the country.

More money being thrown at Transmission Gully Contractors: NZTA announces $14m Covid-19 payment

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Mangawhai Wastewater Scheme

The Auditor General reports: "I summarise it as a woeful saga. Overall, the inquiry found that:

• KDC failed to attend to its fundamental legal and accountability obligations.
• KDC effectively lost control of a major infrastructure project.
• Some of the work done on behalf of the Auditor-General has fallen short of the standards I expect."

The Rogan's have been issued a summons by the Kaipara District Council to pay their costs of $115,000. This demand has the potential for the Rogan's to lose their family home for a Council issue that the Office of the Auditor General found illegal and lacking the competence of 'Best Practice'.

We are asking everyone to help the Rogan's financially by giving through 'Give a Little' (click button) or by donating directly to their bank account 38-9012-0318164-00. All help is appreciated.

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Nelson Waimea Dam

The Waimea Community Dam is a game-changer. It’s one of the region’s most important infrastructure projects ever and the largest dam built in New Zealand for over 20 years.

Tasman district ratepayers face potential liabilities of about $100 million for the Waimea dam project – on top of $29m in credit support already disclosed.

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Auckland Water Crisis

Auckland's previous water crisis of 1993-94 when the city's water storage dams, the only available source of bulk water, fell to just 32 per cent, sparking a massive conservation effort and ending the city's complacency about its supply. Yet 26 years later a bigger, thirstier Auckland is again under mandatory water use restrictions with the storage lakes around 43 per cent full - 33 per cent below normal - and rain forecasts, unconvincing.

It is claimed that Watercare CEO is paid more than the Prime Minister, yet this significant salary has not been able to fix a problem that has existed since 1993. Read More.....

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Wellington Sewage

Residents have rejected Wellington Water's claims the smell from a spill at a sludge treatment plant was a one-off, saying the stench is persisting.

The wastewater was running into the harbour at about 50 litres a  second – about 4.3 million litres a day.

Wellington's pipes have failed again - this time pumping sewage into a marine sanctuary at levels 43-times higher than it is safe to swim in.

Millions of litres of sewage have spilled into Wellington Harbour and a broken pipeline means sludge is being trucked to the Southern Landfill 24 hours a day - but there is a deeper problem. 
Wellington's pipes are in the worst condition of any major centres in New Zealand, according to Water NZ. Thirty-three per cent of pipes in the region are in poor or very poor condition and at an average age of 51 years, they're also the oldest pipes in the country. 
That's leading to more leaks across the city every year. In 2019, Wellington Water recorded 16,000 leaks, up from 10,000 in 2014. 

Wellington rate payers could end up spending up to $16 million fixing failed pipes after a multi-million dollar cost blowout - and even then there are no guarantees.

Wellington Water uses $13k survey to ask if relationship is 'warm or cold'. What is the CEO salary?

"Wellington residents deserve better than these constant attempts to have their opinions massaged rather than their problems fixed. This spin-doctor approach to delivering water services for our city is not working."

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Hamilton Peacock's Development

The Dixon Rd roundabout is budgeted at $15 million. Is this GOLD plated? There does not appear to be a budget limit for this project, therefore who pays?

The Southern Link highway is planned to be the transport corridor for 9,000 homes (18,000 to 27,000 cars), yet State Highway 3 is not far away. What is wrong with State Highway expanded to a dual carriageway with interchange's into the residential area?

Council land acquisition from existing owners is draconian and lacks transparency.

Current technology to reduce the impact of Climate Change does not appear as part of the solution?

Serious questions over the design of the 3 waters has not been addressed?

The Government loan is problematical as no developer agreement has been signed, therefore no new housing capacity is committed to. This has serious financial implications for existing Hamilton ratepayers as they will pay for this through their rates.

High Court Finding - Neil Construction & Others v North Shore Council

[49] Because a local authority is required by s 100 to balance its budget on an annual basis, short of reducing expenditure, a local authority will be obliged to increase revenue from a particular source or sources if projected revenue from another source is not available. The Act does not permit deficit budgeting. By way of example with relevance to this case, if a certain amount of the projected capital expenditure is recoverable from development contributions then general rates can be struck at a level that reflects that alternative source of revenue. If recovery from development contributions is less than estimated, higher recovery will be required by way of general rates in order that the local authority may balance its budget.

OTHER COUNCIL ISSUES

.Many towns and cities have experienced infrastructure cost overruns or skill shortage. The following are examples:


Tauranga: First step taken in legal fight to save 'unsafe' Bay of Plenty homes

New Plymouth: Poor advice and budget-minded decisions cop blame for New Plymouth infrastructure issues

Marlborough: Money set aside for infrastructure projects in Marlborough isn't being spent as the council struggles with a shortage of "council staffing, professional services and contractors".

Dunedin: Much of the DCC’s underground 3 Waters network was constructed in the early 20th century.  While certain assets may have exceeded their expected ‘technical’ useful lives, direct condition monitoring and performance assessment can establish that these assets can continue to operate without significant risk to levels of service.  Can they, as other cities are experiencing significant structural decay, with financial impact on ratepayers?

 

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