Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Tauranga councillor throws hat in ring for mayoralty

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Steve Morris and the notorious congestion areas of Tauranga - 15th Ave and Turret Road. If elected as mayor, Mr Morris promises to four-lane the area. Photo/George Novak
Steve Morris and the notorious congestion areas of Tauranga - 15th Ave and Turret Road. If elected as mayor, Mr Morris promises to four-lane the area. Photo/George Novak

Tauranga city councillor Steve Morris has announced his decision to step up from his current role with a bid for the city's mayoralty - talking sense rather than 'nice-to-haves'.

Mr Morris said he hoped to take over from current Mayor Stuart Crosby in this year's local body elections by laying strong foundations for the city to build and thrive on.

''It's something I've been considering for several months,'' Mr Morris said.

''I really believe the council is there to provide the necessities of life, for a city.''

At the top of Mr Morris' to-do list was the four-laning of Turret Rd and 15th Ave and upgrading the city's current water treatment plant by 2021.

Mr Morris said the congestion at the Turret Rd and 15th Ave junction flowed on beyond Welcome Bay and Maungatapu to impact on Hewletts Rd and State Highway 29, as people tried to avoid the regular snarl ups in mornings and afternoons.

''That's a project the council needs to focus on,'' he said.

Currently, there are no council plans for the road within the current Long Term Plan.

Mr Morris also said it was not acceptable in the 21st century that raw sewerage was flushed into Tauranga Harbour after heavy rain.

''It sounds a bit strong. It might not be the most popular thing to say, particularly in an election which is essentially a popularity contest but we need strong infrastructure,'' he said.

''It might not be the most popular thing ... when you compare what other people's visions are for the city, like a stadium.''

A dedicated rugby stadium and a revamped CBD, including a new council administration building, were subjects already much debated in the lead up to this year's election.

''We might get one extra rugby game a year, which will be great on that day. But what about the other 364 days of the year?'' Mr Morris said.

Mr Morris said it was pointless spending millions on 'nice-to-haves' if people could not actually get there in the first place because roading was not coping with Tauranga traffic.

''We get compared to other cities like Hamilton and Auckland which have better infrastructure but they started on theirs at least 50 years ago with a much bigger population and the cost of things you need for infrastructure was a lot less then.''

''We have been around as a small village for a while. We need to be a big city,'' he said.

Mr Morris said, as mayor, he would provide a budget for the council to adhere to - rather than the current 'washing machine' process where councillors look at what was spent the year prior and adjusting accordingly.

''I'm not somebody coming into council from the outside claiming to have all the answers. I've experienced three budgets in council. One of them was the 2025 Long Term Plan which dealt with $2 billion corporate expenditure and I know how to work with budgets.''

Mr Morris also said there were ways they could save money by choosing cheaper alternatives to the projected $64m build of a new council administration building.

''It's about priorities, a growing city needs a mayor that focuses on the infrastructure our residents need to get on with their lives."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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