The swimming pool has become a vexed issue. This Board campaigned with a promise of delivering a swimming pool in its first year or, failing that, within the three years of its tenure. To that end they canned $1.4 million of already funded projects, handed to them on a platter by the first WLB, and naively gave the money back to Auckland Council as a bribe to fast track a Council funded pool.
Auckland Council said thank you very much for the money, predictably told Waiheke it must join the queue with other local boards wanting a ratepayer funded pool, and promptly spent the Waiheke money on other local boards around the region. The Waiheke Board’s then lost the community most of the future Small Local Improvement Projects (SLIPs) money (around $10million) as well.
Desperate to salvage their campaign promise and make themselves re-electable the Board is now planning to use the new Local Development Initiative (LDI) Fund to leverage a million dollar debt and start building a pool. Here is the relevant resolution.
g) Notes the Waiheke local board received Governing Body approval to allocate LDI funding to enable up to $1m debt funded towards development of a swimming pool for FY16.
This minute is suspect for several reasons:
- Local boards are not permitted, by Act of Parliament, to raise debt. If Walden’s assertion is true (highly unlikely) then this item will be of interest to all other community and local governments around the country.
- The LDI fund and how it is to be allocated to local boards has not been decided on by the Governing Body. The officer’s report accompanying the WLB agenda item is only asking for WLB input into recommendations made by Council’s Budget Committee. These will then be forwarded to the full Governing Body for decision. No decisions on the LDI have yet been made.
- There is no reference either in the officer’s report or even in the minutes of the said Budget Committee, to a swimming pool for Waiheke.
Walden appears to be taking a leaf out of Len Brown’s book, which is ‘act as if’. Brown has plunged every household in Auckland into debt to the tune of $20,000 to pay for the ridiculous City Rail Link by acting as if he has already got the government money he needs to fund the project. He hasn’t, so instead he is borrowing it.
Walden isn’t permitted to raise debt so he’s telling porkies when he ‘notes he has Governing Body approval’ to do so.
What is obvious is that the WLB wants to tie the hands of any future WLB by allocating all the LDI capital funding for the next three years towards a swimming pool.
If a swimming pool is ever built using LDI money it is the local board that will be responsible for all ongoing operational costs. The Board’s own $25000 report says the capital cost will be around $4million and ongoing operating cost around $550,000 a year. In other words it is unaffordable. Worse still, the community will not be able to use it because the Board wants to build it on Waiheke High School grounds, which means, as we know from the disastrous Waiheke Recreation Centre project, very limited access for the community after school hours, if at all.
Walden and his Board, always profligate with other people’s money, are resorting to ever more desperate measures to prove, by fair means or foul, they can fulfil their election promise. Soon the local papers will start spinning the Board’s swimming pool lies. You have been warned.