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Community board broadens criteria for special projects

December 14th, 2016
[by David Armstrong]

The Motueka Community Board is sticking to its guns and asking TDC to allow it to fund small projects that are not strictly 'Bricks and Mortar'.

At yesterday's Community Board meeting, in a major decision which will give the Motueka Community Board a little more control over local projects, they went against the advice of Council management which was to "maintain the status quo".

That advice, given by TDC's Corporate Services Manager Mike Drummond, was that the board's Special Projects fund should be used only for low priority improvements to council assets - "things which are low on Council's priority but high priority for Motueka".

The policy and criteria on how to spend the roughly $50,000 a year which the board receives from a targeted rate has been simmering throughout this year, and this has stopped any progress being made on the choice of projects from the 2015-16 allocation.

Two particular spending options - helping fund the litter cart and financially supporting maintenance of the town's security cameras - became the focus of the debate, along with the definition of the word "extraordinary" in the policy statement for potential projects that did not fit the criteria.

The existing criteria for project selection did not provide for funding operational costs, which therefore completely ruled out support for the litter cart.

The previous Community Board, following submissions from the public early this year, had suggested some changes to the criteria that would allow the board to fund some projects that had strong public support but which were not strictly "bricks and mortar".

With a newly elected board in place, and now two years worth of project funding on hold, it was up to the board yesterday to make the decision.

Board member Richard Horrell said helping keep the town clean and tidy was a very high priority for Motueka people, and they had a right to expect the board to support the litter cart.

Councillor Peter Canton was convinced that board members were responsible enough to be given the ability to decide on local projects.

"The Motueka people tell us what is important to them, and it is our duty as elected representatives where possible to consider and honour their requests," he said.

Council and the ratepayers need to trust the integrity of the board, "and if we start going silly and doing the wrong thing by them, there is a way [elections] for them to let us know and remove us".

Councillor David Ogilvie, who also strongly supports delegation of local improvement projects to local people, pointed out that the Special Projects fund in the past has provided money to enable several great projects, such as the "fantastic murals that have been painted over the recent years", which would not fit the "bricks and mortar" criteria.

The Community Board then voted to go ahead with amending the criteria, with precise wording to be worked out by board chairman Brent Maru and Mike Drummond.

In particular, the new wording will make it clear that bricks and mortar projects will be "a primary focus", rather than the only focus. They will also try to soften the word "extraordinary" to lower the barrier to unusual or controversial projects.

The final draft of the policy and criteria will be brought back to the Community Board at its February meeting, and if passed will go to the Council chamber for approval.

Mike said that in the meantime the Community Board could go ahead with choosing many of this year's Special Projects from the list that the public have voted on, most of which fit both the existing and proposed criteria.

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