Northern News : April 27th 2011
3 NORTHERN NEWS, APRIL 27, 2011 NEWS Introducing Shayne Wyatt • Lawnmowing, • Hedge Trimming, • Section Tidies, • Gardening Specialist Mangonui, Kaitaia, Ahipara Mangamuka, Broadwood, Kohukohu HOME SERVICES For a no obligation free quote phone 0800 800 286 09 406 0683 3166784AO Kerikeri Mitre 10 7 Fairway Drive 09 4077 420 Promotion valid until 31st May 2011 Conditions apply. See instore for details. www.metrofires.co.nz New full citizens of NZ Kiwis now: A selection of Far North residents have joined the ranks of full New Zealand citizens following a citizenship ceremony conducted by Far North Mayor Wayne Brown at Kaikohe on April 15. Those to take the oath of allegiance on the day were: Groups Ravi Kumar Bandi -- Indian Pushpa Latha Gollaman- dala -- Indian, Tim Paul Bandi -- Indian, Vandana Bandi -- Indian, Chantelle Maura Bryan -- British, Eric Ralph Bryan -- British, Stuart Douglas Bryan -- British, Patrick Alexander Bryan -- British, Michael Gerard Bryan -- British, Anthony Paul Robertson -- British, Faye Robert- son -- British, Christo- pher Edward Robertson -- British, Stephen Paul Cooper -- British, Caro- line Wilkie -- British, Sio- saia Ve ehala Tanginoa -- Tongan, Kuenitelina Tanginoa -- Tongan Individuals Ian Douglass Birch -- British, Salvacion Timb- reza Bumiltac -- Filipino, Scott Joseph Carr -- British, Thomas Michael Eyer -- German, Armin- Georg Hanik -- German, Veisinia Livai -- Tongan, Micheline Marie Evangeline Mair -- Can- adian, Michael Owen Perkins -- British, Angelika Maria Thier- mann -- German. Mayor wants new directors to make money By RICHARD EDMONDSON Make us some money. That is Far North mayor Wayne Brown s brief to new directors of district council subsidiary Far North Holdings. Mr Brown says Far North Holdings needed new leadership because its board wasn t following the direction the council had set for it. They seemed to think the ratepayers should pony up more money. We re those old- fashioned people who thought the company was there to produce money. The new board will be told to transfer ownership of its non-commercial assets to the council, refocus the company on profit-making enterprises and pay a dividend to the council. They ve always used non- commercial assets as an excuse for producing bad results. Council service centres will be included in the asset transfer. Owning office buildings, then giving them to somebody else that you own to charge you rent in order to give half that back as a dividend never struck me as wise commercial enterprise. Funds for capital works, such as a runway upgrade at Bay of Islands Airport, could come from the sale of non- core assets or joint ventures with other agencies. It makes more sense for the Northland Regional Council to have half of Kerikeri Airport than $12.5 million of farms south of Whangarei on the off-chance a train might go across them. Former Far North Holdings chairman Tony Nor- man says directors were unhappy the council chose not to renew their directorships. We thought the way we were running the company was in the best interests of ratepayers. Mr Norman says the com- pany performed excellently in 2010, returning a net profit of three per cent for the second half of the year. It s taken a few hits on the value of its property assets, but that s just a reflection of council-controlled trading organisations being required by law to revalue them every year. He had supported the sale of non-core assets, but didn t believe the company would realise their value in an econ- omic downturn. Mr Norman s relationship with Mr Brown had deteriorated because he believed the company should reinvest profits in infrastruc- ture that benefits ratepayers. We think it should be pro- viding value, whereas Wayne thinks it should be providing cash. Councillors rethink sharing the burden of consent fee costs By RICHARD EDMONDSON Ratepayers are bearing a dis- proportionate share of the costs of administering build- ing and resource consents in the Far North. The council s long-term community plan 2009-2019 requires 80 percent of build- ing consent costs to be met by applicants and 20 percent by general rates, while 70 percent of resource consent costs should be met by applicants with 30 percent coming from general rates. Ratepayers are expected to meet 58 percent of building consent costs and 50 percent of resource consent costs in this financial year. A staff report to councillors this month recommended raising building consent fees by 100 percent and resource consent fees by 50 percent to bring budgets in line with the plan. But deputy mayor Ann Court asked staff to pull the report and propose modest fee increases to meet inflationary cost pressures. Clearly, this was not going to be politically acceptable, Ms Court said. A revised report discussed by councillors on April 14 proposed fee increases of 9 percent for building fees and 5 percent for resource consent fees. Councillors voted instead to propose fee increases of 5 percent from July. Councillor Di Maxwell said it is alarming to see building and planning costs rising when other departments were reducing costs. Mayor Wayne Brown and councillor Steve McNally wanted environmental man- ager Fran Mikulicic to con- tain her department s costs. We need to know how efficient our staff are, Mr Brown said. Councillor Tracy Dalton says modest annual fee increases would avoid the need for big increases. The council last raised building consent fees, in line with inflation, in December 2009. It increased resource con- sent fees in March 2010. Ms Mikulicic said her department had already reduced planning staff numbers by 42 percent and building staff by 39 percent since 2008. It s starting to feel very tight. The odd consent is going outside the statutory timeframe. The council wasn t able to recover all costs for staff time because it charged applicants a flat fee when they applied for a building consent instead of by the hour. Existing service standards are that staff are available at all times for customer queries, she said. This inevitably has a high cost attached to it. Staff will better under- stand other factors that impact on fee levels when they have completed activity management plans. The activity management plan process will give the council the opportunity to revisit these standards and set them with knowledge of the cost implications. People have until June 1 to make submissions to the proposed fee increases. Councillors will finalise the new fees on June 9 after hearing and deliberating on submissions.
April 20th 2011
May 4th 2011