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Mayor pleads for 'myth-information' to stop

March 29th, 2012
[TDC press release]

The time for myths is over, Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said today.

"As the amalgamation debate reaches its most important stage, the ongoing telling of the myths of greater than average rate increases, lost opportunities, unmanageable debt and rampant staff increases is doing a disservice to the voters of Tasman and Nelson," Mayor Kempthorne said.

"It is more disquieting that Nick Smith is taking part in and in some cases leading the spreading of these myths. As a former Government Minister and current senior Member of Parliament he is well aware of the level of influence he can bring to bear."

Mayor Kempthorne said he wants a constructive relationship with Government MPs, not political point scoring against respective organisations.

"Both Tasman and Nelson Councils respectively have borne the brunt of the myth of 12% and 13% average annual rate increases . It is true that rating income has increased at an annualised average of 12% from 2002-2010, but this is not equivalent to the average annual rate increase that people receive in their rates notice.

"The reported increase in rating income does not make any allowance for inflation or growth over this time period. Our region has faced reasonably high levels of growth which means that the two Councils have had to provide services to more people. This costs more. The additional people do help pay for the services and provide the Councils with more income," he said.

"The average annual rate increase of an average property has been 8.21%. The rates increases reflect the cost of new services and infrastructure Council has provided.

"There has been a growth in staff numbers over the last six years, some of which is directly attributable to Government legislation, some in response to increased use of our libraries, and in other cases bringing contracted services in house resulting in net savings. It is also incorrect to imply that increased staff numbers means increased rates as some of the services are predominantly self-funding."

"The greater than national average growth experienced in Tasman and Nelson is significant and belies the myth of lost opportunities," Mayor Kempthorne continued.

"I am not aware of recent instances where Council has lost out on Government funding because of two Councils. The Ruby Bay Bypass got built because of Tasman's resolve to address roading issues with all the necessary support from NZTA.

"The reality is we are two relatively small provincial areas inhabited by very distinct communities served by two councils who are focused on meeting the current and future needs of the people within those communities.

"It does not mean there is no room for improvement. It is not helpful, however, to use myths to support an amalgamation that would penalise Tasman residents through inefficient governance arrangements, less representation, and greater costs," Mayor Kempthorne concluded.


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