The only money at the Board’s disposal to effect the purpose of the Act is the Locally Driven Initiatives (LDI) fund otherwise its role is merely one of advocacy. It is therefore disappointing to see the Board use this precious resource to award a further $40,000 to Direction Matiatia to continue three more ‘phases’ of developing its ‘plan’ for Matiatia to add to the countless other plans gathering dust on Council shelves. The report accompanying the agenda item admits that decision making responsibility rests with the Governing Body so all this money is really being spent on nothing of substance. Worse still the Board has all too readily accepted the section of the report that states:
“It is difficult to predict exact costs but an allocation up to this amount will provide sufficient funds”
This is unacceptable. It used to be that any Council project costs were fully disclosed and broken down BEFORE funding was allocated. It is interesting to note that more savvy local boards around the region are no longer prepared to accept this kind of wishy washy reporting from Council bureaucrats and vote precious financial resources with no transparency or accountability. The third Board needs to get a grip on budgets before wasting resources on fruitless projects leaves the coffers empty.
In similar vein what on earth is the Board doing allocating $10,000 to a ‘pilot’ project (with the implicit promise of more money to come) about ‘community’ housing. It is no business of the board to get involved in ‘community housing’. That is a function of Government through the Ministry of Social Development. So what is the money going to produce? Well a report of course – this time by the Waiheke Health Trust and 'helpful tips' about how the 20 selected ‘elderly’ can take action to improve their homes. That’s your lot for $10,000. This is simply duplicating the work of various government agencies.
This sort of ‘virtue signalling’ by the Board might well get them votes from those lucky enough to be the recipients of ratepayer largesse but does it help fix the roads, fix the extra parking needs at Matiatia and now Oneroa, fix the lack of public facilities to cope with growing local and visitor numbers? No, it does not.
It looks like it’s going to be more of the same for the next three years that has held Waiheke back for the last three years.
Instead of more reports and plans to produce ‘helpful tips’, the new Board could have allocated the $50,000 to provide additional rubbish removal or road cleaning services to improve the visitor, and local, experience at the beach and in the village centres at peak holiday time. This would have the long-term effect of helping businesses thrive, and provide local jobs to service the visitor industry for a vibrant economy. So the new Board has missed an opportunity to show it understands the need for financial prudence and its role in providing for the future needs of ALL the community.
The only positive sign from the Board, so far, is that its members have all attended the workshops and meetings, and it is going to have monthly business meetings instead of the wasteful fortnightly meetings by the profligate second Board. But someone soon needs to get a grip on the LDI capital (capex) and operational budgets (opex). There is no money for development in the opex budget for the 2017/18 and it would appear the Board does not want the public to see what is in the capex budget for the next financial year because no report appears on the agendas.
This has not been a promising start for the new Board. There was some hope that new members would at least stop the waste of resources. So far that hasn’t happened but its early days. This week’s business meeting is another opportunity for members to show they understand their role. They need to get a grip on the essentials soon or it will be an unhappy 2017 for tourists and locals alike.