Carmen is a social issues and rural reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Groups back private sector amenities in Tauranga

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Civic Amenities Group chairman Paul Adams.
Civic Amenities Group chairman Paul Adams.

Ratepayer groups have thrown their support behind the private sector building new amenities in Tauranga and leasing them back to the council.

The feedback comes after Civic Amenities Group chairman Paul Adams called the CBD a "disgrace" last week.

He accused successive councils of being "too timid to make the hard calls" and keeping the rates artificially low to try and placate the vocal minority.

Read more: Tauranga CBD like an 'outdated village'

Mount Maunganui Progressive Association acting chairman David Burnett said it was strongly in support of private enterprise joining with local authorities.

"Certain parts of Tauranga are in my view a bit neglected and need to be upgraded, but in every business you have got to judge your priority according to your clientele and income flow.

Tauranga is a growing residential and commercial base so the pressure is coming all ways."

Papamoa Progressive vice-chairman Ron Melville said it believed the ratepayers could not bear the burden of infrastructure, improvements, repairs and civic amenities.

"Now there are grounds to explore private partnership options ... it has to be balanced to ensure they are what residents require and will in fact be used and not become unloved expensive white elephants."

It is time for us to be a serious player in the New Zealand city market and to have these amenities and if that means an increase in rates, no one is going to enjoy that but maybe that is how it is.
Greg Milne, Matapihi residents and ratepayers association chairman

Matapihi Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Greg Milne said Tauranga was a young city that "is growing and we are struggling to keep up with infrastructure and developments like museums and art centres".

"It is time for us to be a serious player in the New Zealand city market and to have these amenities and if that means an increase in rates, no one is going to enjoy that but maybe that is how it is."

Mr Adams also objected to mayor Stuart Crosby's comment last week that providing infrastructure like water, wastewater and roading "comes at the expense of our ability to invest in amenities".

All of the infrastructure within a subdivision was paid for by the developer and gifted to the council at the time of title, he said. His own company Carrus Corp had funded tens of millions of dollars in development contributions, he said, and created 4000 new homes that accounted for about $10 million of the annual rate collection.

In September 2015, the Civic Amenities Group put forward a proposal to create a new cornerstone civic centre funded by a $35 million community bond, on the site of the now empty old civic administration building.

Read more: Domain upgrade vital to vitalise CBD

The bond would allow community trusts and individuals to invest in the ownership of the new civic centre, said Mr Adams. It was envisaged the council would lease back the new building at an estimated $3 million annually, however admitted it was "not the only show in town", and supported others who had put their hands up.

Mr Adams was also adamant he would not be in the race for the mayoralty and had no political aspirations other than seeing Tauranga progress.

Mr Crosby told the Bay of Plenty Times "growth does not pay for growth".

The council had also invested $100 million in flood protection and not all infrastructure was related to subdivisions, he said.

The Civic Amenities Group was only one of the proposals in front of council. Four developers had submitted designs for consultation.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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