The Waiheke Local Board’s rush for a school pool, funded by already hard-hit ratepayers, must seem like a godsend to Kaye whose government wouldn’t need to stump up with a cent. No wonder she is promoting it as one of her election promises. School pools haven’t been part of the core school curriculum for years now, which leaves it up to the parents to fund-raise or someone to look around for a convenient money-machine – in this case, we council ratepayers.
The Board has already amassed over a million dollars of ratepayers money by stopping or depriving funding to many other community projects, all to pay the capital cost of a ‘learn to swim’ pool for the school because that’s as far as the money will stretch. The real problem they have is how to fund the ongoing operational costs.
Poor Nikki only wants to do what she thinks is best for the community but she has been duped. She has no knowledge of local history and no understanding of the financial implications. Had she done her homework and researched the failed Auckland City Council experiment with creating a ‘community Recreation Centre’ as a partnership with the local High School on Ministry of Education land, she might not be so quick to leap in at the deep end. But let’s face it this is an easy win for Kaye. She’ll take the kudos and encourage the project, safe in the knowledge that it won’t cost the government a penny.
When will the Local Board ‘fess up and ask the real questions, namely -
“Do you ratepayers want to build the kids a school pool?” and, once built,
“Do you want to pay a special annual rate to pay for the on-going running and maintenance costs of this school pool?”
But don't hold your breath. Community consultation, accountability and transparency are all but extinct with this 'Green', quasi-communist Board.
A special or ‘targeted’ rate on Waiheke ratepayers is the only mechanism that can pay the pool’s substantial ongoing operational and maintenance costs, as I've been saying since the beginning of this year. Add this on to the massive rate rises Waiheke has already suffered under the Labour/Green controlled Auckland Council and Waiheke faces an impoverished future. Then add all this on to the already predicted 10% p.a. plus rates increases already in the pipeline for Waiheke and hey presto, this Local Board has landed we ratepayers in way over our heads. Bankrupcy looms over Waiheke every bit as much as it looms over Auckland.
Oh, but I hear them say - the community will have access after school hours, with a commercial entity running the show. Yeah, right! Just like the Rec. Centre! The schools (all three of them in this case) will soon monopolise every sensible hour for swimming. A few years down the track (probably less) the commercial entity will fail and/or need more money as the community/Ministry of Education model once again proves it isn’t ‘sustainable’ financially and continually relies on the ratepayer to pick up the bills.
Wise up Nikki. As I said in my blog yesterday, you won’t gain a single vote from Green Party supporters by going along with their hare-brained scheme of tricking Waiheke ratepayers into paying for a school pool but you will alienate your core voters. Either commit to providing central government money for this Ministry of Education responsibility or take a leaf from Winston’s book and put your weight behind policies like keeping the Gold Card with its wide social and financial benefits.