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No agreement by Community Board on choice of small projects

September 14th, 2011
[by David Armstrong]

It's back to the drawing board for the allocation of up to $40,000 of Community Board money after board members last night failed to agree on how the "small projects" budget should be spent.

Last month board chairman David Ogilvie listed four projects as suggestions for how the $25,000 special rate plus $15,000 surplus should be spent this year. This was based on a newspaper and online survey of residents who licked their top preferences. See our story here. The list was formally presented to at the September board meeting yesterday for discussion and endorsement.

However, significant dissent emerged as to the list proposed, and after almost half an hour of discussion it was agreed that the whole matter would be re-examined at a closed workshop for board members on Monday September 19th.

The first item of disagreement was with the equal top-voted proposal - for $7,500 to be provided towards a "litter collection" running from October 1st to next June. This would cover 10 hours per week at $15 per hour, and assumed that Keep Motueka Beautiful (which used to organise the defunct litter cart) and Our Town Motueka would top this up to $10,000.

First, it took some time for all to realise that this was not for the reinstatement of the littler cart alone, but for broader litter collection over much of the town and including the Riwaka-Kaiteriteri Road. Board members could not agree on who would perform the work and who would manage the operation. Jack Inglis believed there was not a litter problem to address.

This led to one light spot of the meeting when David Ogilvie said he had personally picked up many bags of rubbish from several places in one day. Jack replied (to all round laughter) that there was therefore no need for an organised litter service.

Eileen Wilkins said that she was thinking of the implications for Keep Motueka Beautiful and would like to see a clearly laid out plan of how the money would be used for littler collection, before she could vote for it.

Barry Dowler said he thought litter collection would be a waste of money from the special rate, and that he wanted the funds to be used for "bricks and mortar" small projects. This comment led to the crux of the remainder of the debate. Several board members agreed that the purpose of the rate was for $5000-type projects for particular kerbs, footpaths and other physical projects. Barry, who had voted against striking the $5 special rate, said that he would only support having the rate in future if it would be used for bricks and mortar-type projects.

He also said he was led to believe that the money would be used for a number of $5000-sized projects, not for larger ones costing $10,000 and $17,500 (the top-voted pair).

At this point, Cliff Satherley said there should be a "workshop" of board members to re-evaluate the options and become "better informed" about the whole project. He said other options not on the list would be better ones for the spending and these should be debated.

David Ogilvie said that "if we choose other options it would be like giving the fingers to those people who responded to the survey" in the community consultation process. A proper process was undertaken and "we would need to be very careful indeed if we were to ignore it and choose our own options". He said it was about democracy and proper process as much as about the details of the projects.

The other three projects were not debated in detail, but it was clear to observers that the other top-voted project - the sealing of the cycle/footpath between Thorp Bush and the Recreation Centre - will be unlikely to survive the workshop debate.


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