On Waikato's side
The latest Robinson Report on local government reform continues an important discussion but several errors need to be corrected.
Waikato Regional Council is not contributing $11 million to the cycling centre of excellence - the correct figure is $6m. It is also wrong to imply we have pushed for a unitary Waikato-wide council such as Auckland Council.
The regional council has not failed to get Waikato Mayoral Forum to look at regional economic development as a priority. In fact, regional economic development is now a forum workstream.
The article mostly glosses over positive developments on inter-council co-operation. Besides all Waikato councils working together on ideas such as shared services to reduce costs, we are also looking at strategic planning to integrate land use, infrastructure and economic development, the streamlining of planning processes and more consistent regulation.
Waikato councils have also pulled together to achieve funding for the Waikato Expressway, the Kopu Bridge, remediation of the Tui Mine and major water quality initiatives.
All Waikato councils generally agree we need to speak with one voice at a national level to compete effectively with the likes of Christchurch and a now united Auckland. Every time the Waikato region seeks funding from central government, we're up against these and others who see their issues as just as worthy of financial support.
Waikato Regional Council sees clearly that any change in local governance arrangements for Waikato needs to build on the very positive work councils are jointly doing on behalf of their communities. The only "side" we are on is Waikato's.
- Peter Buckley, Chairman Waikato Regional Council
Editor: Geoffrey Robinson says the $6m grant from WRC to the Home of Cycling Trust is being financed by an internal interest-bearing loan from the council's long-term investment fund. The interest rate charged on that loan is 5.65 per cent through June 30, 2015, with the rate to be revised every three years. The grant and loan result in an annual rating requirement of $601,109 over the 20-year loan repayment period. The resulting cost to ratepayers to finance the velodrome grant is far higher than the amount of the grant advertised by council.
Dog rego fees
In her letter last week ("Going to the dogs", Hamilton News, Oct 26), Dot King claimed Hamilton City Council's dog registration fees had increased by 300 per cent. That is not the case: the council has increased its dog registration fees for 2012-13 by 6 per cent.
The council has a varied fee structure, meaning dog owners who register animals early or on time are entitled to a discount. Conversely, those who register animals after August 1 are shifted into a different fee category, as they have not met their obligations under the Dog Control Act, and do incur a higher charge due to additional administration costs and staff time.
Dot also queried how dog registration funds are spent. We can assure her they are not channelled into other areas of business, and are specifically used for the operation of the council's animal education and control team.
- Fiona Sutton, Animal education and control manager Hamilton City Council