New look council flexes muscle

By John Cousins

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Tauranga City Councillor Clayton Mitchell.
Tauranga City Councillor Clayton Mitchell.

The new political culture of the Tauranga City Council crushed a bid by Councillor Catherine Stewart to insert a qualifying statement that decisions reached for the 2014-15 Annual Plan were not unanimous.

Cr Stewart noticed that staff had left out the usual statement made in previous years that issues had arisen in the Annual Plan that did not have the support of all elected members.

The usual practice was for the qualifying statement to be part of the decision making when Annual Plans were finally adopted. It was a political device which allowed the council to endorse the overall content of the plan while still making it clear there was dissension.

However her bid was crushed by the new-look council and she could only muster support from Mount Maunganui councillor Clayton Mitchell.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said that staff had left out the recommendation to see if the culture of the council had changed.

The council adopted the Annual Plan, noting that fiscal constraints and the shift to online and digital books had led to the decision to reduce spending on books by nearly $1.1 million.

The Plan was inconsistent with the libraries levels of service policy because it reduced the number of books per head of population from the policy level of 2.6 items to 2.4 items.

Councillors adopted the plan which included a 2 per cent increase in the general rate based on the movement in the Consumer Price Index and a special 4.7 per cent levy to raise $5 million for additional stormwater relief works.

Last year's council elections witnessed a big clean-out of the old council, with only Rick Curach, Bill Grainger and Catherine Stewart surviving.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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