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Hawke’s Bay Regional Council - news in brief

14 August 2013

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council - news in brief

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Environment and Services Committee met today. Key items covered at the meeting were a Notice of Motion proposed by Councillor Murray Douglas, an update on Open Spaces Projects and Funding, an update on Oil and Gas Exploration Discussions, and a presentation on the Regional Prosperity Study. The meeting was chaired by HBRC councillor Kevin Rose.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council received the Notice of Motion from councillor Murray Douglas concerning the removal of stock from riparian waterways and the call to cease this practice now, or as soon as current contracts allow.

The notice of motion was accepted with the recommendation to be discussed at the next full Council meeting, pending a staff report on stock exclusion sites.

This report will propose a programme to exclude cattle as soon as possible from the remaining areas where access is possible, and associated cost implications.

The committee received a paper from Group Manager for Asset Management, Mike Adye seeking guidance on distribution of the remaining $800,000 of Open Space funding. The paper outlined the possible development of existing open spaces and the potential to increase maintenance and depreciation costs to cover the current Open Space network, including Hawke’s Bay Trails.

The committee recommended that this item be deferred to the new Council to consider, at the same time as consideration of a Parks Network Plan item.

Michael Bassett-Foss gave a verbal update on oil and gas exploration discussions throughout Hawke’s Bay. Discussions have taken place with a stakeholder group of 24 members. They focused on implementing the best process to make information accessible to the group and wider community. The next step will be to prepare a Terms of Reference for the stakeholder group confirming the focus of future discussions and how the group should proceed.

The second stage report on regional prosperity was today presented to HBRC’s Environment and Services Committee by its author, consultant Peter Winder of McGredy Winder and Co.

The report, titled ‘Potential Costs and Savings of Local Government Reform in Hawke’s Bay’, focused on different models of reform for local governance across Hawke’s Bay. Released in June this year, it looked at three scenarios proposed by HBRC: a regional unitary authority, a single territorial authority in addition to the existing regional council, or two territorial authorities and the existing regional council.

While the report has been available since June, this was the first opportunity to present the findings to HBRC councillors.

Questions from councillors led Mr Winder to state that he was “confident in the savings side of the report findings but not confident about the estimated costs of transition, as these depend on the approach taken.”

Transition costs noted in the report were largely modelled on the Auckland experience, where Mr Winder noted the transition of business systems to be a key element of cost. The total estimated cost to transition would be a conservative $13.6 – 18.4 million, with savings estimated between $2 – 7.4 million. Much of the costs relate to roading and transport (24%), water services (16%), recreation and community (21%) and overheads (13.6%).

Mr Winder agreed with councillors that the same level of saving with a shared services model would be unlikely, while there are savings opportunities in that model. He also commented that shared services would be the biggest opportunity for cost savings, short of an amalgamation model.

HBRC published a media release on the Prosperity Study Update on 21 June 2013 (link).


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