Last week I received an early copy of the 19-page executive summary together with the full 75-page business case for Napier's biggest commercial gamble to date - the velodrome project.
Together with the previous Napier City Council report that slated the project as "a high-risk investment", and which cost more than $60,000, the council, in its infinite wisdom, has wasted a further $500,000 of ratepayers' money on a second report which resembles a badly written science-fiction novel.
Despite the huge cost involved the report appears not to have an author who is prepared to put their name to it. I can only assume that based on the assumptions to support the unsupportable that the report was the brainchild of the mayor, chief executive and the seven-member and highly paid PR department.
Unhappy with the first report that found no sound reason to proceed, the council has included three covered courts in the middle of the raised velodrome for basketball, futsal and volleyball players.
The report [p6] confirms that the National Indoor Sports Strategy identified a shortage of only two indoor courts in the whole of Hawke's Bay.
Despite this, and using the three courts as "cover" and a "Trojan Horse" for this vanity project, the numbers participating in volleyball have actually decreased in the past three years [p8].
This pet project of both the mayor and chief executive is, I believe, for the benefit of the 300 members of the Ramblers Cycle Club, of which the CEO is an avid supporter.
Despite the fact that the majority do not reside in Napier it will be local ratepayers who will end up paying the $30 million and the millions each year to keep the doors open.
The report waxes lyrically about a similar stadium in Derby, England which this appears to be copied from. What the mayor and CEO have failed to tell their employers [the ratepayers] is that in a country where building costs are substantially lower the cost to date for the Derby stadium is $50m and counting.
Despite this the report [p75] recommends that " the council proceed with this investment".
Remember, this is the mayor who promised us the ill-fated MTG museum/arts centre project would attract 800,000 paying visitors a year. Six years later it struggles to attain a mere 4 per cent of that figure.
Add to this disaster the fiasco of the dud Deco Bay buses which cost us $2m and were sold within 18 months for $50,000.
Meanwhile drownings are at an all-time high but the council's priority is to build a vanity project to satisfy 300 elite track cyclists.
Ten months ago the NCC received a report that identified a shortfall of three 25m public swimming pools in the city.
With more than 80 per cent of children under 10 unable to save themselves in the water it has never been more important for this council to support a life skill for the benefit of all ratepayers.
At the 11th hour yesterday, the council decided to withdraw a paper seeking a resolution of council to proceed with this $30m vanity project because more time was needed to look into issues around the project.
However, vast amounts of ratepayers' money has already been spent to get to this stage.
So what does the report disclose to justify this huge waste of ratepayers' money?
Page 4 is littered with innumerable reasons as to why this project will be good for the city.
It says we will become healthier and that everything from bowel cancer to the high rates of smoking among Maori and teenage pregnancy will be addressed if this project is rammed through.
I kid you not.
Rates are currently increasing at a rate of 600 per cent above the rate of inflation, mainly due to the MTG fiasco. With this project expect increases of more than 1000 per cent above the rate of inflation.
Also left unsaid is how the lower socio-economic group [which is continually championed in this facile report] can afford the $10,000 required to buy a competitive bike plus the $1000 lycra outfit that will be mandatory for competition.
If you think this is fanciful then refer to the financials [p18].
Revenue for the complex is budgeted to start at $450,770 in year one, increasing to $709,820 in year five.
Of that, ratepayers will be charged $54,783 for its use in year one, rising to $228,261 in year five.
However, the cycle clubs [read Ramblers Cycle Club] will start at $149,217 in year one with absolutely no increases over the next five years!
Similarly, Cycling NZ also has a constant charge over the five-year period of $31,304 a year.
The report shows that while the annual cost to ratepayers multiplies nearly five-fold over the five-year period, the staff and operating costs remain constant!
Included in this exercise are the costs of energy, audit, insurance, office supplies, bike fleet, track and court repair and maintenance, and cleaning, all of which remain constant with absolutely no increases for inflation and expenses.
Staff do not do any better. The sales and marketing manager is shown to have an annual salary of $60,000 which is shown to not increase over the five-year period.
The two operations co-ordinators share a similar fate, with their annual salary of $25,000 not increasing one cent over the five-year period.
To suit the argument of the mayor and chief executive we are left with a budget which is totally delusional.
This report is nothing but a con job on the Napier ratepayers who will be left to fund both the construction cost and the ongoing substantial losses for years to come.
John Harrison is a former Napier City councillor. Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: email@example.com