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Local input sought on future of boat ramp fees

Local input sought on future of boat ramp fees

Community Boards to determine what is best for their areas

Thames-Coromandel District Council has decided Community Boards are best placed to decide what mechanisms are best to fund the provision of boat trailer parking and harbour facilities in their areas.

The Council resolved at its December meeting to carry out a review of the District-wide boat launching and amenity permits scheme put in place last year. They have also agreed to suspend enforcement of the scheme from December 12 through to June 30 next year while the Community Boards work through the issue and come up with their locally preferred solutions.

At the same time it is encouraging boat owners to continue purchasing the permits because funds collected will be allocated to their local boat ramp and will provide resources to fund work that may not carry a high priority when it comes to the allocation of other Council revenue. Permit fees already collected in the current financial year will not be refunded.

No change yet to public places camping policy on the Coromandel Peninsula

TCDC awaiting further direction regarding national policies

Self contained campervan owners will have to wait a little longer before they find out whether there will be areas set aside for them to legally camp on Council reserves on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Consideration of a paper recommending a limited liberalisation of Thames-Coromandel District Council's current policy of banning camping in public places has been deferred until March next year while national policies and standards are established.

In addition, Mayor Glenn Leach wants Council staff to monitor what happens over the coming summer period so that any decision can be based on factual statistics and not just anecdotal evidence.

The proposed changes would have allowed self-contained campervans access to a limited number of Council reserves identified by local Community Boards, but only after a review had been carried out on the relevant reserve management plans.

Chief Executive Steve Ruru told the December Council meeting that this could be carried out as a blanket exercise rather than waiting for individual reserve management plans to come up for review - some of which have only recently been revised and will not come up for consideration again for five years.

Access to the reserves was only being proposed for certified self-contained campervans and not the myriad of rental vehicles with no onboard waste storage facilities that are currently causing problems nation-wide.

Slow growth likely over next few years

Recession creates uncertainty around future growth levels.

Growth projections forecasting a three per cent increase in the number of rating units in the Thames-Coromandel District over the next five years were considered optimistic by some elected members.

Council considered a report at its December meeting from BERL Economics which had taken into account areas already known to have resource consents for subdivision but which they believe will not be brought on stream in the current economic environment.

Mayor Glenn Leach said the indications from major developers were that they were selling far fewer sections currently than in the past and he did not believe this would change in the short to medium term.

While acknowledging that growth had slowed in recent years and that the recession had created considerable uncertainty Chief Executive Steve Ruru emphasised the need for Council to take a medium-long term view in looking at potential growth. He said that the long lead-in times associated with infrastructure development meant that there was a need for Council to look beyond the short to medium term in making a decision on what growth assumptions to use.

He also noted the difficulties and extra uncertainty associated with the need for Council to forecast growth for each of the district's main communities. The need to produce long term growth forecasts for thirteen different communities creates an added level of complexity.

Staff will be undertaking further work to refine and 'ground truth' the individual community projections produced by BERL. The final projections will be bought back to Council for formal approval in the new year.

Special District Plan Review committee set up

TCDC looks to external expertise to help get it right

Thames-Coromandel District Council has appointed Councillor Wyn Hoadley and Deputy Mayor Peter French to a special District Plan Review Committee, but is also looking to external parties to help with the development of a new draft District Plan.

Cr Hoadley is chair of Council's Judicial Committee while Deputy Mayor French chairs the Policy and Planning Committee.

The Council had decided to appoint up to four others from outside Council who can bring specialist knowledge and experience in designing a plan that will be acceptable to most parties and reduce the number of appeals. Council will make a decision on the external members of the Committee in the new year.

Dog restrictions changed at Onemana

TCDC adopts proposals put forward by local ratepayers association

Onemana dog owners now have clearer rules about where they can exercise their animals - on or off lead.

Dogs will be able to be exercised off lead all year round on the beach north of the rock island near the waterfall at the northern end of the beach but dogs will be completely banned from the beach south of the island from Labour Day through to March 1.

The bylaw changes agreed to at the December Thames-Coromandel District Council meeting also identifies other reserve areas within the township where dogs must be on a lead at all times.

Land Transport Strategy submission seeks
fairer subsidy rate

TCDC currently receives one of the lowest subsidy rates in the country.

Thames-Coromandel District Council is pressing for a fairer subsidy from the New Zealand Transport Agency for qualifying road works.

The Council currently gets a 43% subsidy from the NZTA under its Financial Assistance Rates (FAR) scheme, which is the lowest in NZ and compares unfavourably with the 51% paid to neighbouring Hauraki District Council.

The current rate does not reflect the reality of providing roading services on the Coromandel Peninsula.

TCDC has raised the issue as part of its submission to Environment Waikato on the Draft Regional Land Transport Strategy 2011-2041.

The December Council meeting was told that the TCDC submission has also reinforced the need for the NZTA to give consideration to resolving one-lane bridge issues on the Peninsula.

Further $450,000 required to fix storm damage to Coromandel Peninsula roads

August storm event cuts into Disaster Relief Reserve funds.

High intensity rainfall events on August 11 and 12 created nearly $800,000 in roading damage in the northern and eastern parts of the Coromandel Peninsula with a net cost to Thames-Coromandel District Council of $446,880 after receiving a 43% subsidy from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The majority of the funds are needed to fix a slip on the Black Jack Road to Opito Bay ($410,000) with other work required at four sites on Colville Road and further work at Wharf Road (Colville) and Port Charles Road.

Elected members upset at plans to reduce their mileage allowances

Remuneration Authority to be told that changes are unfair on TCDC Councillors

Plans to reduce mileage allowances paid to councillors came under fire at the December meeting of the Thames-Coromandel District Council after a letter from the Remuneration Authority was tabled detailing the changes.

The Authority has announced a 30 km threshold to qualify for mileage allowances with the 30 km to be taken off the total mileage claimed. It is also limiting elected members to a maximum 5000 km a year at the standard IRD 70c per km rate; reducing the payment for additional km to 35c per km.

It was pointed out that Mercury Bay councillors had to travel around 200 km to get to and from Council meetings in Thames - far in excess of what any city councillor had to travel and a lot further than most district councillors.

The timing of the announcement was also criticised, with some Councillors saying they may have reconsidered standing for Council because of the potential costs, but the proposed changes were not notified until after nominations closed.

Meantime the Council has resolved to retain the current remuneration allocation model and associated salary levels for consultation, as required, with Community Boards.

The current salary levels are:

Office Annual Salary

Mayor $74,386

Mayoral vehicle $5,334

Deputy Mayor and Committee Chair $34,846

Committee Chair $32,700

Councillor $28,320

Community Board Chair $10,358

Community Board Member $6,075

Under this structure there are no meeting allowances paid and the Mayor has full private use of the Mayoral vehicle.

The Council has to notify the Remuneration Authority of its position by April 1, 2011 and the final salaries ratified by the Authority will be back dated to the day the elected members took office.

ENDS

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