Onetangi Sports Park pavilion extensions and community facilities upgrades have been saved from extinction following pressure from my blog and community submissions overwhelmingly against the money grab proposed by this Local Board in their Draft Plan.
The Waiheke Local Board Draft Plan identified a $1.4 million money grab from three already budgeted projects to be handed back to Auckland Council as a sweetener for a community pool.
My blog at the end of January ‘Waiheke gifts Auckland Council $1.4 million’ had this to say:
In a move of breathtaking ineptitude and naivety, the new Waiheke Local Board plans to withdraw $742k earmarked for the much needed Onetangi Sports Park pavilion extensions, $410k set aside for community facility upgrades (including refurbishing the old library space), and $268k planned for recreational boat ramps and give it back to the Auckland Council in the hope they will fast-track a community swimming pool for Waiheke. There are no guarantees this sweetener will actually work. The Board has not set any conditions around this massive repayment to Auckland Council; making it basically an unconditional koha with no right of retrieval.
Board Chair Walden went public in the Gulf News to say this was tosh. I stood my ground and encouraged the public to submit against the robbing of funding for these long awaited and much needed community projects. Looks like another win for the blog and the ratepayer.
However, the big loser is the recreational boat ramps project. The $220k earmarked by the previous Board for this project has been stopped in its tracks. This funding was the necessary precursor to providing a boat ramp on the northern side – a project that has been in the pipeline for almost 10 years. Instead, it looks like the money has found its way into a pot for the Board to spend on their own discretionary SLIPs (Small Local Improvements Projects).
This all supposes that this Board can persuade the Mayor and Council’s Governing Body that they need such a large amount of discretionary money to spend. When the former Board negotiated this level of discretionary funding, it was because of the failure of the last Auckland City Councillor Denise Roche to secure any legacy projects for Waiheke, potentially leaving us out in the cold for the next 10 years.
At the time, the Mayor was deeply sceptical but was persuaded by the arguments. Given the tight budget constraints Mayor Len Brown now finds himself under, he might not play ball this time, especially with so many questions being asked about the lack of financial accountability being displayed by this new Board.
Why do these Board members need such an enormous budget on call? Large as it is, it’s still not enough to pay for the school pool they’re so committed to.
The community can breathe a sigh of relief that the Sports Park pavilion extensions will go ahead, as will the upgrading of community facilities, including a revamped current library space. But no-one can rest easy until we start getting more financial transparency of ratepayers’ money.