And Here Come the Causalities
The Long Term Plan 2012-2022 was adopted into existence earlier this year, setting the Council’s course on all things revenue and expenditure (yeah lets ignore the V8s and White Water-rafting for a few seconds). On the rates side; some of us got stung with large rates rises while others got nice rates decreases. All of us though got service and capital expenditure cuts when our respective Local Boards had to follow through on a 3% cut in their budgets per the Mayor’s “orders.”
Manurewa Local Board have been very vocal on what the funding cuts have meant capital expenditure wise (so money for community projects like playgrounds and upgrades to community facilities). Well it seems I have stumbled (via the NZH) across our first OPEX (so facilities funding in the operational costs side) casualties in the form of POSSIBLE library closures.
From the NZ Herald:
5:30 AM Monday Oct 1, 2012
Pressure goes on after mayor’s directive for all areas of city council to trim budgets by 3 per cent in election year.
Snells Beach residents, many of whom are retirees, are bewildered and angry at murmurings the refurbished Mahurangi East Library in the community centre is closing.
More than 300 locals have signed a petition deploring the proposal and there is fighting talk by local politicians of chaining themselves to the building.
“We love our bright, welcoming, well-used library, the heart and soul of this mixed and growing community,” said local Sandra Garman.
The other locality in the cost-cutting sights of council library manager Allison Dobbie is the Grey Lynn library, housed in its original 1924 building on Great North Rd.
Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers said closing Grey Lynn library would be unwarranted, completely wrong and would cause pointless grief.
Mr Brown, through chief executive Doug McKay, has directed all council departments, local boards and council-owned bodies to cut their operating budgets by 3 per cent next year.
This is so Mr Brown can reduce the projected rates increase for his election-year budget to “well below 4 per cent”.
Mr Brown and Mr McKay have boasted about making $1.7 billion in savings and efficiencies over 10 years.
And for the first time they are calling for cuts to service levels. This has led Ms Dobbie to look at closing two of the council’s 55 libraries.
She did not return calls to comment about the pressure she was under to reduce library services.
In a written statement, Mr Brown said he doubted any libraries would be closed to reduce next year’s rates.
But he would not give a firm guarantee to Snells Beach and Grey Lynn library users
Article continues at NZH site
Okay so which way is it, we looking at library closures or not? And why is a guarantee not able to be given here – that to me sounds like that the libraries will close but not one has the balls to say so from the outset. Gee I feel the communities affected through being left in limbo over the state of their libraries.
But we all knew this kind of thing was coming under this Council with this failed Long Term Plan.
I suggest that we divert money from the CAPEX budget and sink it into the OPEX budget. The money for the Cruise Ship Terminal and the money for phase one for the Quay Street Boulevard would cover the libraries and other Local Board budgets for the next wee while to come (oh say 10 years).
And what about Quay Street Boulevard? Defer all work on it until 2020 but leave enough money behind for our engineers to get the traffic light phasing RIGHT and maybe some extra signage and pot plants.
Hey we all got to make sacrifices here and I am making a few suggestions that are win-wins all round here.
But then again win-wins and the simple things often escape Council and the bureaucrats – otherwise we would not have these problems would we?