October council meeting highlights
This was the final meeting of the current Council prior to the October 12 election. Mayor Meng Foon farewelled Councillors Nona Aston and Patrick Tangaere who are not standing for re-election. Meng thanked all councillors for their support and hard work over the last 3 years.
He also thanked group manager environment and policy Hans van Kregten for his 10 years dedicated service to Council. Hans leaves Council at the end of October.
Transitioning to the new Council
The result of the election should be officially declared on or about Thursday 17 October 2013
The inaugural Council meeting is likely to be held on 24 October 2013. At this meeting declarations will be made by the Mayor and Councillors, the deputy Mayor will be elected and the date and time of the next Council meeting confirmed. At this stage the next ordinary meeting is scheduled for 31 October 2013. That meeting is likely to deal with Committee members, appointments, meeting schedules and delegations.
In order to allow for Resource Management Act (RMA) processes Council has appointed the Hearings Committee members - Alan Davidson, Pat Seymour, Craig Bauld, Rehette Stoltz and Manu Caddie - as Hearings Commissioners from 13 October 2013 until a new Hearings Committee has been appointed by the new Council.
Chief executive’s activity report
Gigatown is a competition organised by telecommunications company Chorus to determine which New Zealand town will become the first in the southern hemisphere to receive one-gigabit per second broadband speeds – up to 100 times faster than most cities around the globe. A group, including Council and ECT, wants to work together to make Gigatown a possibility for Gisborne and to encourage our communities to start thinking about Ultra Fast Broadband as a huge opportunity to transform our city’s economy and also deliver great social outcomes. A project manager has been advertised for to coordinate efforts to win the competition. The competition will last for close to a year and in order to get to a shortlist we will need to demonstrate huge community interest in using ultra fast broadband.
Work has started on the Alfred Cox Cycle and Walkway and The War Memorial Theatre Redevelopment. The Cenotaph soldier is now on display in Marina Park next to the Rose Garden. Council expects to hear from the Lottery Grants board this month regarding a funding application for the restoration of the Cenotaph.
Expressions of interest have been called for to solve Council’s building problems. Enquiries have been received from locals and from outside the region and many of those that have enquired were shown around the Fitzherbert Street building this week.
The Institute of Professional Engineers (IPENZ) has taken the complaint regarding the design engineer seriously and has convened an investigative disciplinary panel.
All renovation work at Fitzherbert has been completed (or close to). Staff now occupy 900 sq meters less (including off site) than before the 2001 building was closed down. That is 900sqm that is no longer built into our requirements for any resolution to the Council building problems.
Council finishes the year in strong financial position
Council adopted the 2012/13 Annual Report noting that the strong financial position has been maintained. Debt levels are relatively low at $25m, $11m less than was budgeted. The accounting surplus of $4m, is $2m higher than budgeted.
The main driver of the surplus was gains from land sales and increased New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) funding for emergency flood damage. Depreciation and finance costs were lower than expected.
Council is developing a stronger focus on rates affordability and customer service. The annual report sees the beginning of this work. Mayor Meng Foon and chief executive Judy Campbell report that Council will attempt to become more decisive and innovative in the ways community needs are addressed, without increasing the rates or leaving a legacy of run down infrastructure. Costs have been reduced by more than $1m and an ongoing process to look at ways to make interactions with Council more straight forward and predictable for customers has begun.
Leases to BW Camping approved
Sign off from the Minister of Conservation was needed to lease land that comes under the Reserves Act. Council is now able to do this. Council decided to approve the use of Watson Park, Awapuni Stadium, Churchill Park and the Outdoor Theatre for use by BW Camping Grounds for short term camping. It is an annual short term lease for 18 days each year until 6 January 2022.
BW Camping will pay Council rent in 4 instalments (just under $90k for 2013/14) and rent will be reviewed every 4 years. Council will invest $40k of this money on improvements to the reserves and $20k on ground maintenance.
Fundraising for the War Memorial Theatre
The War Memorial Theatre Trust have every confidence that their fundraising target of $5.350 million will be reached. The trust has $3,263,310 in the bank and has received $1.866 million in pledges and large donations that will be available once building starts.
More than 450 seat plaques have been sold which contributed $111,973.
The total project cost is now estimated to be $9.599million which is greater than was budgeted two and a half years ago. The Trust is prepared to make approaches to seek additional funds towards the total anticipated cost.
The trust is pleased that the build tender is signed with Currie Construction of Gisborne. This will enable jobs for local people. As so many of our community have contributed to the success of the fundraising project this is a very exciting outcome.