At its December meeting, the new Waiheke Local Board allocated $20,000 of its discretionary SLIPs (small local improvements projects) money for planting fruit trees. While this might seem a laudable thing to do, it was done without a request from the public, without an officers scoping report (as is usual practice under Council’s SLIPs process) and without a formal recommendation from a Board workshop.
Now this might seem like small bikkies, but it highlights the lack of process the new Board is slipping into and the slippery slope that can happen when transparency goes out the window. It can lead to accusations of favouritism when ratepayers money finds its way into the pockets of their supporters.
In January, a Notice of Motion (NOM) saw $25,000 of ratepayer’s hard earned money given to two schools to employ a consultant to write them a report on how to run a community swimming pool on school land.
The proper place to debate and fund SLIPs projects is through the SLIPs officer’s report – first requesting ‘scoping’ to determine whether or not ‘value for money’ can be achieved and whether, in the officer’s professional opinion the proposal is a goer and secondly – a formal Board resolution to ‘approve’ the necessary funding.
It’s a slippery slope Board members – today $20,000, tomorrow who knows … the entire SLIPs budget to fund a school swimming pool?