Long-Term Plan 2018-2028 Chamber - Submission
Long-Term Plan 2018-2028
Chamber of Commerce Submission
Published: 20th April 2018
The Gisborne Chamber of Commerce represents approximately 150 businesses in the Gisborne region.
Key point – on the right track with “back to basics” focus
The Chamber is supportive of the general approach of increased expenditure on key infrastructure and an increase in both debt levels and rates to pay for it.
- Supportive of a lift in roading expenditure
- Supportive of the Managed Aquifer Recharge trial programme
- Supportive of the DrainWise project to fix wastewater/stormwater issues
- Supportive of the proposed improvements to the wastewater treatment plant
- Supportive of the Waipaoa Flood Control Scheme upgrade
The Chamber does not have a problem with “above 2%” rates increases across the community. We agree that key infrastructure requires significant, well-planned expenditure and we think higher debt levels and up to 5 percent rates rises to fund this expenditure is appropriate.
However, the Chamber is adamant that the expenditure on this key infrastructure be managed prudently and efficiently; no one minds money being spent on infrastructure so long as the best long-term options are chosen and installation is well implemented. We believe the council should consider outsourcing some development projects and ownership/management of related assets to its CCO or Eastland Group. We believe there should be more big-picture thinking and investigation of the district’s long-term transport infrastructure needs.
Road infrastructure improvements critical
- Roads are critical infrastructure to the region and need to be maintained to a high standard to ensure that the roading network is suitable and future-proofed for economic prosperity and growth.
- The Chamber fully supports an approach to central government for additional funding to the district for maintenance and improvement on key road routes.
- The Chamber believes that strong contractor management is required to ensure road maintenance contractors are held to account and roads are well maintained.
- The Chamber is supportive of exploring options such as a regional fuel levy, or toll roads or other alternative funding options, as well as pursuit of the fair return of Road User Charges coming out of this district.
- The Chamber believes Council needs to charge farm-foresters a forestry roading differential for the portion of their land that is in forest as soon as possible, to help prepare for the roading impacts of their harvest. It is a pity this hasn't happened already, with farmers preparing to face a new impost from the inclusion of stock emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Water infrastructure is vital
- Water supply to horticultural users is a key issue for regional economic growth.
- The MAR trial programme is a very important initiative and Council should be congratulated for its support.
- Comprehensive consultation is required on the reasonable community questions of water ownership and/or water infrastructure ownership. Levies to commercial users to fund infrastructure, drive efficient water use and ensure sustainable water supply is appropriate. These levies should be set in agreement with key industry and commercial stakeholders.
- Initiation of the Waipaoa Flood Control Scheme upgrade is a necessity and is prudent “insurance” for inevitable future adverse weather events.
- We support the DrainWise initiative required to reduce and stop current issues such as raw sewage being released into city rivers and backing up on properties.
- We agree that Council should replace old wastewater pipes in the public road and enforce private, while also funding some of the private work where big gains can be made. We note this is the preferred option.
- However we suggest that other funding provisions be determined and implemented, possibly on a case by case basis;
- That a criteria be established, possibly involving an amnesty period, so property owners have a set but limited time frame for undertaking repairs;
- If circumstances warrant, the repairs could be managed and undertaken by suitable Council staff or contractors;
- And required measures be put in place to manage each case and charge the property owner according to any financial outlay required by Council to undertake the necessary remedial repairs, in order achieve the desired reduction more quickly.
- The Chamber supports the council’s preferred option, for affordability reasons and to allow time for further investigation and technology improvement re a wetland and alternative use.
Regional Transport Infrastructure – More analysis required.
- The Chamber would observe that there is a current short/medium-term emphasis on roading maintenance out of obvious necessity, however all district transport infrastructure needs to come into the discussion now. We believe there should be an independent study of these matters, and that the Provincial Growth Fund would support an application for such a study.
- What are the real economic and other trade-offs and impacts of utilising both the road network and the rail line, or investing in coastal shipping instead of rail?
- What are freight customer needs now (as opposed to 2012) and into the future that would inform a decision on rail or coastal shipping investment?
- Are the key road network routes situated in the right location given future forestry harvests?
- Is there another route/better method to get logs from Dunstan Road to the port?
- Could part/s of the State Highway south to Hawke’s Bay be rerouted for much better outcomes?
- Gisborne Holdings Ltd and potentially also Eastland Group should be utilised to seek efficiencies, drive clarity of purpose and enable transparency of finances. Council is considering transferring Community Housing to GHL; the Chamber thinks it should also consider its CCO owning/managing other key assets in the region such as theatres and the Olympic Pool complex. GHL or Eastland Group could provide similar commercial expertise to the district’s water supply, for example.
- The return sought from GHL in its statement of intent is a 4% Return on Shareholder Funds. Council should seek higher levels of return and allow higher GHL debt levels to drive appropriate decision-making by the board. Settling for a 4% return is not using the ratepayers’ investment in these assets to the best potential.
- One of the reasons for transfer of assets to GHL was to create transparency of overheads. With the asset transfers now mostly complete and overhead costs transferred to GHL, we don’t see overhead reductions within Council. We note that the council has also brought water testing and gardening in-house, and added project managers, but we understand it has also significantly increased its communications, IT and human resources teams.
- It is not unreasonable for our members or the wider Tairawhiti community to question whether the Council organisation is itself “sharing the pain” as it asks ratepayers to stump up, to approve large debt increases, and to realise some important projects can't be done without significant or complete grant funding — and is asking funders to step into the breach. We believe Council isn't showing it is focused on efficient delivery of services when its staffing costs are forecast to be $1.2m over-budget this financial year, and we don’t hear much publicly about efforts in this area. If this is also the perception of funders, we feel it could put grant funding at risk.
- While the Chamber supports the “5% to thrive” rates increase proposal in the draft Long Term Plan, it would have been better if instead Council had made gradual increases of say 3% over recent years instead of a sharp jump from 2% to 5% now. Council should have processes in place to be able to foresee these requirements and plan rates increases prudently and gradually.
- The Chamber is supportive of the council’s plan to increase debt levels to fund necessary infrastructure improvements and spread the payments over time. We agree the council has room to lift debt levels but would want to see debt come down relatively quickly as planned, for future investment and emergency works flexibility.
- The chamber is supportive of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan and the council’s commitment in it to streamline its consenting processes. We note from the LTP consultation document that it is intended to increase charges for consents to lessen the burden on ratepayers. The Chamber would hope that any fee increases would contribute to markedly improved levels of service and processing times.
'Upgrading roads a top priority'
by Terry Sheldrake Published: 15th January 2018
Gisborne District Council is now mostly moved into its new building. Without doubt it will have been designed and built to meet every building code best-practice standard so that all who are working inside can be assured they are in a safe and productive working environment well into the future.
Pre-Christmas, Tairawhiti Roads featured in The Herald outlining revised budgets and promises of significant roading upgrade programmes. This is good news, yet well overdue — in particular for roads on the East Coast. Several of our District Council-managed internal roads are being addressed, which is welcome news for motorists and cyclists.
Over the holiday break I spent time with an area executive representative of the Road Transport Association of NZ, and found it interesting to understand the role this agency plays throughout New Zealand.
The mission statement of the Road Transport Forum is to create and sustain the environment within New Zealand in which the road transport industry can grow and prosper, and to assist members of the constituent associations to realise their business goals.
The constituent associations are broken down into six regional associations. Gisborne falls within the Bay of Plenty/South Waikato/Poverty Bay/Taupo association, with our representative based in Hamilton.
Their work is extensive, including the following key areas:
• Represents the interests of road transport operators nationally
• Lobbies central and local government and responds to government initiatives affecting the industry
• Actively promotes the industry’s interests with key policy setting and enforcing government departments, such as the Ministry of Transport and the NZ Transport Agency
• Works closely with major industry suppliers including oil companies, truck and trailer manufacturers and tyre companies
• Supports the industries’ training organisation
• Keeps members fully informed on matters affecting their business and the industry as a whole.
Road transport issues across Tairawhiti are complex, particularly because of our geology. The predominant issue now though is the increasing number of logging trucks, which regularly take the brunt of criticism for damage to our local road network.
However, unless there is a financially viable and sustainable alternative, getting the logs to our local port — and hopefully to a growing local wood-processing sector — will require an increasing number of log truck movements every day.
As Port Eastland develops plans to accommodate dual berthing (allowing two log ships to be berthed and loaded at a time), our local roading and transport decision-makers must prioritise getting roads ready for the extra load. They also need to keep conscious of the safety factor for our community.
With the likelihood that more and more trees will be planted, it is timely to remember that we do need to ensure that good, productive pastoral land is not taken out.
It is worth noting the value of forestry vs farming loads:
Logs $125 per tonne
Lamb $5000 per tonne
Beef $5500 per tonne
Wool $2500 per tonne.
A truck-load of logs is worth $3750 while a truck-load of steers is worth about $60,000.
The transport weight produced off a forest of pinus radiata is also about 20 times that for a farm when annualised.
Gisborne Chamber of Commerce: 157 Grey Street, Gisborne NZ
(City end of Cosmopolitan Club building - Entrance from Grey Street -
with off street Car Parking available)
Postal Address: PO Box 897 Gisborne 4040 NZ
Telephone: 06 863 0384 / Terry's Mobile: 021 645 503
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Website: www.gisborne.org.nz
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PLEASE NOTE: Terry will be in the Office on Tues. / Wed. / Thurs. - you are
invited to phone in and make an appointment.
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Gisborne Chamber of Commerce: 157 Grey Street, Gisborne New Zealand