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Chadwick-led council facing first real test

Chadwick-led council facing first real test

21 May 2014

The character of Rotorua's Steve Chadwick-led council is facing its first real test since the election, according to the Muddy Waters blogger at The Mud.

The blogger notes two key issues confronting the Rotorua District Council led by Mayor Steve Chadwick, a former Labour Government Minister.

"Issues around race relations and capital expenditure raise the eyebrows of most pond dwellers and Muddy Waters loves to get stuck in with the best of them," the blogger writes, and continues as follows:

However, plans for a new partnership arrangement between the council and Te Arawa and the capital spending on the TERAX solid waste treatment plant have wider implications than the proposals themselves.

The wastewater treatment proposal goes before the council’s Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee today (21 May 2014) but the Te Arawa proposal has been pushed back to allow time for consideration by Te Arawa iwi at a hui-a-iwi at Tama-te-Kapua this weekend.

The Te Arawa Partnership Project has already cost the council – firstly, in terms of cost in the development of models and legal fees; and, secondly, the ferocious backlash from what one resident has called the “whitey” component of the community. The size of public feedback on the issue and the nature of the nickname give some indication of what the councillors have in front of them should this go all wrong.

Apart from arguments around our constitution’s requirement to make specific provision for Maori representation and the ineffectiveness of previous attempts nationally and regionally, the question remains as to how the success or otherwise of the partnership will be measured.

If this question cannot be clearly answered, then maybe this proposal is more about appearances than practical usefulness. Given feedback and the korero likely at the weekend, the options might change, however. Click to go to a link to the paper tabled in late April.

Regarding the TERAX project, apart from any philosophical arguments, this is one of the first big capital projects the Chadwick-led council will consider. Muddy Waters is tickled that it is a waste treatment project; anything we can do to clean up our environment is to be supported.

An analysis of the costs by council finance and works chiefs provides a fuller view of costs and outcomes. A number of variables exist regarding the cost of TERAX and two competing projects put forward by other companies.

The TERAX option will require a net investment from the council of $8.5 million, while the capital investment from one of the other options - “Centrifuge” - is $1.5 million. The report states it is therefore important to look at the three options over time. However, as the previous council discovered with projects, such as the Rotorua International Airport, projections can go wobbly at the best of times.

Nevertheless the council officers recommend the council take on the debt now, rather than pay a much lower upfront cost but risk higher user charges over the life of the project.

Click to Read the RDC SP&F Committee Agenda

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