ROTORUA DISTRICT RESIDENTS AND RATEPAYERS’ NOMINATION FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT AWARD TO ROTORUA LAKES COUNCIL
FOR SERIAL BOONDOGGLES: UNNECESSARY, WASTEFUL, OR FRAUDULENT PROJECTS SINCE 2013
The Lakefront Redevelopment Project is wasting $40 million. Council gave away the clay pavers from the lakefront walkway long popular with international tourists. It will replace a children’s playground with a children’s playground. It will convert lakeview parking dearly beloved by the elderly and handicapped into another cycleway. It will build retail outlets for co-governance and commercial ‘partners’ to lease out, with Council maintaining them in perpetuity, but with no returns to ratepayers. The ‘partners’ have delayed building a spa hotel next door for two years, because international tourists have stopped coming, but the Council is going ahead with the ‘lakefront redevelopment’.
Terax Ltd lost at least $8.4 million, although some estimates are closer to $20 million. Council commissioned research in 2008 and set up a pilot plant to test 1940s technology to convert sewage sludge into fine dust. The incoming Council decided in 2013 to retain the CCO and to commercialize the venture. It could not find an international partner. It failed to sell the intellectual property. It had a $4.7 million grant from the Ministry of the Environment’s Waste Minimisation fund withdrawn in 2017. Later that year Council shut the CCO down worth nothing. No one was fired. The sludge now goes to Ecocast in Kawerau where it is converted into compost by worms.
The Whaka Forest Tourism Upgrade has cost $14.5 million so far to upgrade car parks on the Long Mile and at Hub 2, with another $20 million promised to build tourist retail outlets for co-governance and commercial ‘partners’ at Hub 2 over the next three years. The Deputy PM has just announced $90,000 towards construction of a new visitor centre. Council’s ‘partners’ will lease the retail outlets and Council will maintain them in perpetuity, with no returns to ratepayers.
The Inner City Revitalization Portfolio was promised a $10 million budget over 10 years. The City Focus, a dearly beloved and covered intercultural meeting place, was bulldozed and replaced by a barren area, for $1.366 million. Another $3 million was allocated to the ‘City Focus Refresh – Te Manawa’ project to extend and develop Jean Batten Square and Haupapa Street. Today Te Manawa mixes and terrifies foot and vehicle traffic, offers bean bags and shade for the homeless, and has lost 70 odd parking spots to the CBD Cycleway costing $514,000 that nobody uses.
Mudtopia was a tourist event that attracted external funding of $907,000 including a MBIE grant. It was halted by a national outcry when Council proposed to buy mud from South Korea, a country with endemic foot and mouth disease. Mudtopia lost $570,386 plus $170,000 capital costs – a total loss $740,387.
ROTORUA DISTRICT RESIDENTS AND RATEPAYERS’ NOMINATION FOR A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD TO THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ROTORUA LAKES COUNCIL
FOR HIS INNOVATIVE CREATION OF UNNECESSARY, WASTEFUL, OR FRAUDULENT PROJECTS SINCE 2013
His most outstanding dogs with costs to date include:
- Rotorua Airport’s multiple refurbishments at about $4 million each, with another $1 million proposed for 2020-21
- Uncollected rates of $6.5 million in 2019-20
- The Landfill Leachate Environment Court Case (estimated up to $5.4 million)
- Pouring Treated Sewage into Lake Rotorua Environment Court Case (estimated up to $2 million)
- $1 million increase in salaries with fewer staff during 2019-20, after a round of redundancies
- The Hemo Sculpture (latest estimate $748,000 and climbing, modelled on the Olympic flame image)
- Crankworx (estimated $500,000 in subsidies)
- Night and Sunday Markets ($400,000 budgeted over 4 years)
- Te Tatau o Te Arawa advisory board getting a 49% increase in its annual grant of $250,000 for 2020-21
- Arranged grants to help attract the film industry to Rotorua
- Published the Council’s glossy quarterly magazine Tatau Tatau ($288,000 per annum), and
- Maintained full employment guaranteed during lockdown and, in concert the Mayor, rejected the PM’s calls for salary cuts as “morally reprehensible”.