by Christopher Ruthe
The Kaj –
- “It will bring as many to Kapiti as the island” –Councillor Elliot
- “a facility that will attract greater tourism” —Gurunathan
- It “enhance[s] the mana of Kāpiti Island and our district.” –Councillor Buswell
It looks like the Council is about to recommend that ratepayers pay all or most of further the fees for visitors using the Kaj [Gateway] biosecurity facility. Council has taken on board the fact that raising ticket prices by 20% might put visitors off. In 2013 visitor numbers fell almost 50% when DOC increased it fees by 25%.
KCDC is committed to the project proceeding. It now has to-give out of town visitors a free or almost entry pass. If visitor numbers double in the next year and quadruple in 10 years, what will it cost ratepayers? 30,000 visitors times $15.00 is $450,000 per year growing to $876,000. This is on top of the costs set out in the KCDC business forecast. That forecast shows expenses of $393,000 a year. So the total cost to ratepayers will be between $843,000 and $1,269,000.
It is interesting that what is effectively a Labour council is wanting to fund a visitor centre of no benefit for residents. It is designed to draw “out of towners” preferably Aucklanders here. Waikanae Library is likely to be closed forever. Another paradox: this council says it is Green yet it is encouraging transport pollution — most will come in cars.
All this at the expense of residents so many of whom rely on the superannuation for their income. Rates are likely to soar 11% next year as ratepayers keep on picking up the tab.
One also needs to examine the enormous construction costs for this glory edifice. The floor area is only to be 135 m² — Lockwood, for example, say their high-spec prices are around $3,000 per m² which is $405,000. Adding the $500,000 that the KCDC has already spent on this proposal plus a similar amount for engineering and site preparation, it still falls well short of the claimed $4.6 million. What else does the council have in mind? –-Eds