by Conan Tait
The estimated building cost of the Kapiti Island Bio-security hub (Te Uruhi) has gone from $4.5m to $7.7m. The Mayor promises there will be no impact on rates. In Kapiti News (11 May 2022) he says “I want to reassure the price increase will not impact on next year’s rates”.
The Kapiti News article claims all councillors continue to support this project despite massive cost increases. It says: “KCDC councillors expressed their continued support for the project following a detailed briefing”. According to this story all councillors accept the Mayor and mayoral candidate Holborrow’s economic opinion that the $3.2 million cost blow-out will be cost-free to ratepayers. Do all councillors agree, and what are the economic principles used by Gurunathan and his protégé to prove they are right?
All councillors supposedly support the Gateway — the blow out is cost-free?
Kapiti News, part of the once prestigious NZ Herald publishing empire, categorically asserts all councillors continue to support the Gateway. It repeated the mantra “KCDC councillors expressed their continued support”. Why did the author of this NZ Herald piece fail to ask councillors what their position was? If they had been as investigative as they claim, Kapiti News would have found that four councillors continue to strongly oppose the project. They are Councillors Gwynn Compton, Bernie Randall, Martin Halliday, and Jocelyn Pravanov.
The supporters of this “free to ratepayers” project are:
Four councillors with common sense are falsely reported as supporting “Cost Blow-out”
It is more than unfortunate that the local media happily denigrate responsible councillors by falsely implying all councillors agree with the Mayor and his Deputy and their belief that borrowing $3.2m is cost-free.
How $3.2 m is cost-free
The Mayor says the blow-out is cost-free for the following ‘modern’ economic reasons
(1) External grants. They will “cushion the impact.” Mayor Gurunathan said: “One example of possible external funding is a current application for $1 million to the Ministry of Culture.” Two paragraphs later the Kapiti News article transforms a possibility into a reality, so no cost to ratepayers.
(2) Re-appropriating existing funds (some would say misappropriating) funds that are currently committed to pay for projects previously committed to by Council. Guru says “Officers assure us that funding can be used from within the existing capital works budget”.
(3) ‘Re-phasing’ maintenance. (The Oxford English Dictionary has no such word as “re-phasing”). This is KCDC speak for cancelling urgent maintenance. KCDC is an expert at this. It failed to maintain the Waikanae Library and leaks were so bad it is permanently closed.
The Newhanga Community Centre was ‘re-phased’ out of existence. It is permanently closed due to lack of maintenance. The latest KCDC Annual Report states the stark facts: “A building assessment of the Community Centre was obtained, whereby the report indicated moisture intrusion problems with evidence of mould contained in the walls. Since the assessment, the results of which have influenced management view that the building should no longer be occupied. The building is no longer fit for purpose “.
Honesty and transparency
The current Mayor stood on a platform of making KCDC the most transparent Council in New Zealand. Voters will decide whether they accept the evidence of the mayor that $3.2 million in extra costs will cost nothing.