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Highlights from June Council meeting

2 Jul 2014

Highlights from June Council meeting

Read the Council meeting agenda for Thursday 26 June 2014(external link).

Economic development the focus

Gisborne’s new Economic Development Agency has moved a step closer with a draft Memorandum of Understanding agreed between Gisborne District Council and Eastland Community Trust.

Partners to the memorandum expect to develop a close working relationship to identify and act on opportunities contributing to economic development in the district. They expect to foster a growing understanding of the importance of economic development and its contribution to improving opportunities and outcomes for people in the district.

For the financial year ending 30 June 2014, Council has agreed to contribute $100,000 to set up the agency. ECT will contribute $90,000 together with in-kind staff support. Both entities will provide $180,000 in each of the three subsequent financial years. If required, the trust may provide the agency with office space within its Gladstone Road premises.

Eastland Group director John Rae has been appointed agency chair. He is a member of the National Infrastructure Advisory Board, which provides independent advice to Treasury and the Minister for Infrastructure, and was chair of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

Status quo for wastewater project

A project to reduce wastewater discharges in the city will not be fast-tracked this year, despite an appeal by councillors Amber Dunn, Meredith Akuhata-Brown and Larry Foster at this week’s full Council meeting.

The trio were out-voted by remaining councillors, who passed the recommendation from Council’s Infrastructure Committee to retain the standard and timeframe in the current Long Term Plan. The plan allocates $26 million to renewal and upgrade projects, designed to help reduce wastewater discharges. It provides for an average of one discharge every two years.

Staff had previously supported the option to retain the current upgrade timetable but significantly raise the standard to a one in five year average discharge at an extra cost of $5.6m.

Councillors wanted to be assured that, with a lot of other capital works programmes going ahead, all major projects could be delivered.

Chief executive Judy Campbell suggested staff raise the subject of fast-tracking the project by making a submission to the upcoming Long Term Plan.

Wainui cycleway gets longer

The Wainui to Kaiti walk and cycleway, currently under construction, will be extended to Okitu and Gisborne city. But just which route it will take into the city is still up for discussion.

At its meeting this week, Council supported NZ Transport Agency’s suggested scope change extending the walk and cycleway in both directions and allocated $450,000 from regional funds to help make it happen.

The Regional Transport committee’s suggestion to continue the cycleway to the city via Rutene instead of Wainui Road will depend on the result of consultation with affected parties. And it needs to be approved by the transport agency itself.

Councillors also agreed to consider acknowledging former district councillor the late Muriel Jones in the naming of the new walk and cycleway and will discuss this with her family.

Meanwhile, Council is looking to acquire a strip of land beside the Taruheru River between Grey and Derby streets, the old Gas Works site, to join the riverbank walk and cycleway to Aberdeen Road and ultimately the Botanic Gardens. An offer will be made to land owners Mitre 10 once an appropriate value is determined. The strip of land is already a popular cycling and walking route.

Annual Plan adopted

Councillors have “struck the rates” by formally adopting the 2014-15 Annual Plan.

This will see a 1.9 percent increase in rates revenue collected across the district, less than the increase of 5.4 percent forecast in the 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan.

Council received 183 submissions to the draft 2014-15 Annual Plan and heard 30 submitters through the hearings process.

As a result, Council agreed to provide a one-off grant of $45,000 to Tourism Eastland and adjust its funding levels by 2 percent for inflation over the next three years; increase funding to Surf Life Saving New Zealand by $3000 up to $70,000; and bring forward by four years the $100,000 allocated to the 2019 Te Ha Sestercentennial commemorations. Council will roll over the unspent $20,000 allocated in 2013-14 for a memorial wall at Makaraka Cemetery where headstones were earlier buried.

The extra funding granted will be sourced from current budgets.

Most fees and charges will increase by between 1 percent and 3 percent, mostly as a result of inflation and as anticipated in the 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan. Resource consent administration, fireplace consent and liquor licensing fees will see greater increases to meet revenue and finance policies or increased costs.

Staff are following up numerous suggestions from submitters to the Annual Plan.

Workers’ bus on road again

The workers’ bus is set to continue on a permanent basis. Council agreed at its meeting this month to retain the service, which enables commuters to travel in and out of the city in time for an early work start, and will provide an extra $13,700 annually from rates to the passenger transport budget.

Council urges people to make use of the service.

Range of options for rail corridor

A feasibility study on potential uses for the existing rail corridor between Gisborne and Napier has the go-ahead. Councillors this week supported Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay mayors in asking for a government-funded study on the rail corridor, suggesting a range of options be developed not just rail.

Cenotaph fundraisers honoured

Nine high school students were presented with mayoral certificates this week for their part in the Cultural Slam, which raised more than $2000 for The Cenotaph. They also received a red, metal poppy – a Department of Internal Affairs medal commemorating the 100 years since the start of World War 1.

The students were Te Awariki Lardelli, Te Rau Elliot (Lytton High); Tara Moore, Angela Mathers (Campion College); Ashley Donaldson and Halecia Gardiner-Pomare (Gisborne Girls’ High); and Andrew Shelton, Enoka Karaka and Jordan Peipi (Gisborne Boys’ High).

Cenotaph restoration continues

Work continues on strengthening the foundations under the Cenotaph but work is behind schedule after it was found nothing connected the inner and outer foundation rings.

The foundations have been redesigned with the rings and piles better connected. The new piles are all in the ground and work continues to complete the foundations.

Staff are working with the construction team to bring the project back on track.

Library extension plans a step closer

Concepts showing how H B Williams Memorial Library could be extended are expected to be back to Council in six weeks. Architects Chow Hill and Team Architects are working on concepts for the expansion.

Both architects met on site and discussed what needs to be incorporated into the new space while taking into consideration the building’s architectural significance.

Dogs online

Council’s new dogs online facility is proving popular with dog-owners … and councillors, who this week were given a first-hand demonstration in the chambers.

Councillors were shown how to go about the registration process and how to check if their lost pooch has ended up in the Council’s animal shelter.

All dogs must be registered from 3 months of age and before 31 July each year. Payments received by the due date will be discounted by $20.

Support for new Sister City

A proposed Sister City with Zhuhai, China moved a step closer with councillors this week supporting the “very positive” concept expected to bring economic opportunities.

Mayor Meng Foon and several Gisborne businessmen visited the city near Hong Kong in April, meeting the Deputy Mayor and importers from Zhuhai, Guangzhou and Macao. Discussion centred around wine, meat, cheese and education. Among the delegation were John Thorpe and Graham Wake from Longbush Wines, Rick Thorpe of Waimata Cheese and Steve Voysey, representing wine producers.

Meeting fee for advisory group members

Non-elected members of the Wastewater Technical Advisory Group and the Freshwater Advisory Group, not paid by the groups they represent, will from now on be paid $140 a meeting. The recommendation was adopted by Council this week.