8 Things I Learned From The Tauranga City Council Long Term Plan 2015 – 2025

I just finished reading the Tauranga City Council Long Term Plan 2015 – 2025.

I absolutely loved it!

There is no sarcasm there, I enjoyed every page! Here are 4 reasons I enjoyed it so much:

  1. I felt informed. I loved learning some history, about the decision making process in the present, and the way the document allowed me to peak at the future.
  2. I came to appreciate all the effort, resources, considering and money that goes into every Tauranga City Council activity. It made me proud to be a citizen. It inspired me to seriously consider running for council
  3. It was beautifully laid out and presented. Colour, bullet points, headings, structure, tables, graphs. It was a pleasure to absorb
  4. I quite enjoyed that smug feeling that I’m one of only a handful of people that have read it from cover to cover

Here are the 8 things I learned from the Long Term Plan.

1. 41% of our rates are spent on water!

Managing water is a huge component of what we pay for in our rates (41%)

  • Getting fresh water to our taps (13%)
  • Getting our waste water from our homes, treating it until it’s almost drinkable, pumping it out to sea (16%)
  • Diverting storm water away from our homes (12%)

2. Nine Council Activities Have Zero Impact On Our Rates. They Are Funded By User-Pays Instead. Yay!

There are 4 main ways to pay that TCC pays for it’s activities:

  1. Rates
  2. Loans (TCC gets amazing interest rates and capacity to borrow!)
  3. Grants (From organisations such as NZ Transport Agency who recently purchased Route K from TCC)
  4. User pays

TCC needs to find the right balance of providing the services that we want, but minimising the amount we pay for those services via our rates.

I was surprised by the large number of departments that are 100% funded via user-pays (and therefore have no impact on our rates). There are 9:

  1. The Airport
  2. Beachside Holiday Park
  3. Building Services (consents, building permits)
  4. Parking
  5. Marine (wharves, jetties, boat ramps)
  6. Cemeteries
  7. Elder Housing (246 houses the council owns for elders)
  8. Solid Waste (waste collection, disposal, recycling)
  9. Historic Village on 17th Ave

Plus I have a 10th to add: Animal Control. Which is 90% user pays, 10% top-up from our rates to pay for controlling unregistered dogs.

3. Some Council Activities Are Planned 30 Years Ahead

Did you know there are 3 levels of planning documents that plan ahead 1 year, 10 years and 30 years?

My next reading project is to read through 1000+ pages of strategy documents, some of which plan 30 years into the future.

These strategies inform the Long Term Plan which covers a 10 year period (this is the 400 page document I just finished reading).

The 10 Year Plan informs the Annual Plan which details the activities for the council over the next year.

The Annual Report looks back on the year to measure how the council did against the plan.

One the one hand I can see the hours/weeks/months/years of work that have gone into these documents.

Options, implications, costs and benefits have been carefully considered.

I take comfort in the fact that intelligent people are taking the time to look ahead and prepare this city for the future.

But on the other hand I see a lack of a bold vision and I see a high resistance to change.

Each year is conservatively build on the previous year.

It creates this methodical, careful momentum off into an unexciting future of adequateness and mediocrity.

4. $6.50 Per Day Gets You A Lot

Annual rates revenue ($120M) / Tauranga’s households (50,000) / 365 day per year = about $6.50 per household.

What did your family get for your $6.50 today?

  1. Did you drive/ride/walk along a road or footpath?
  2. Did you look at a pristine view of the beach, the sea, a park, or a tree?
  3. Did you drink water, flush the toilet, or have rain water drained away from your house?
  4. Did you enjoy some gallery art, some street art, or go to an event, or borrow a book?
  5. Did you play sport on a field or an indoor court? Did you swim in a pool?
  6. Did you meet in a hall? Did you ride in a boat? Did you visit a shopping centre?
  7. Was a tourist dollar spent, or an export dollar earned locally, that might flow eventually into your pocket?
  8. Was your rubbish or recycling taken away?
  9. Did your house, the houses of your neighbours, and the buildings in the city stay up-right?
  10. Was a team of 500+ people thinking and acting in the best interests of your city while you go about your day?

Not bad for $6.50 per day I think.

5. Investment In The Arts Over The Next 10 Years Is Zero

Ouch.

If you want to see growth in Arts & Culture in the next 10 years then here’s the plan:

  • Join an existing arts & culture groups, or, start new ones!
  • Bring these groups together and brainstorm projects that you could all get behind
  • Choose just 1 or 2 projects to achieve this year
  • Either prepare submissions to council so your voices are heard, or, just get on with the projects yourselves (collaborate!) without the councils financial assistance

6. There Will Never Be A Rates Cut

If you hear would-be councillors making a promise like that to get votes, I’m certain that’s a promise they won’t be able to keep.

Rates will increase every year by about 2.5%.

There will not be any rates cuts.

Ever.

7. TCC owns 246 units for elders

Did you know that the council owns 246 units for elders?

On the one hand, I think it’s sweet that the council is helping 246 individual elders (or couples).

But on the other hand, I’m not sure being a residential landlord should be council business…

The costs of these activity are 100% funded by rents and fees though. So that’s something.

8. We have 20,477 street trees

I like seeing greenery in urban spaces. When I saw this number I pictured the guy whose job it was to count them all.

2 more interesting statistics from the Parks & Recreation section:

  1. We have 78 playgrounds
  2. There are more than 1 million trips around Mauao base track each year

What’s Next?

I’ve just finished reading the Draft Annual Plan 2015/2016 and there are lots of proposed changes from the Long Term Plan.

From 4 March 2016, submissions on these proposed changes to the Annual Plan can be submitted by the public.

One of which which affects me personally: The 1 year delay to beginning construction on the cycleway between Omokoroa and Tauranga. Darn!

Your Thoughts?

Have your say in the comments section.

2 thoughts on “8 Things I Learned From The Tauranga City Council Long Term Plan 2015 – 2025

  1. In your assessment of what you get for $6.5 per day you have in my opinion gone too far. Water is charged based on usage (about $1.40 I think for m3). Also there are no free swimming pools to my knowledge in TGA/Mount. The boats and shopping centres are nothing to do with council directly. The rubbish everywhere to my knowledge also costs to get taken away.

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