Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Candidate vows to reduce debt

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Mayoral candidate Dr Reynold Macpherson at a council meeting in April last year. He has just released another policy statement.
Mayoral candidate Dr Reynold Macpherson at a council meeting in April last year. He has just released another policy statement.

Mayoral candidate Dr Reynold Macpherson has promised to reform the financial management of Rotorua Lakes Council and bring back submissions and hearings for the annual plan process.

He proposes to make continuous improvements to revenue collection, capital and operational expenditure, programme and project management, debt management and public accountability.

The objective is to raise system efficiencies, improve openness, reduce waste, hold rates rises to the cost of living, compress costs and seriously reduce debt.

"We will establish a Finance Committee of council to do the hard yards," he said.

"It will provide policy advice to council and oversee financial planning and management. It will conduct rolling reviews of the long-term plan.

"It will develop each annual plan after authentic consultations, submissions and hearings to engage all three policy advisory boards - Te Tatau o Te Arawa, the Lakes Community Board and the Rural Community Board, stakeholders and individuals.

"It will also supervise the avoidance or mitigation of natural hazards, building services, properties and rates."

The Finance Committee will have a chairperson and deputy chairperson with all elected representatives as ex-officio members and relevant expert officials with team leadership responsibilities.

He said the attendance of chairpeople, deputies and officials would be mandatory, and optional for other councillors to avoid overload and to sustain information flows and public accountability.

"The Finance Committee will give priority to costing policy options prior to debates and decision making.

"It will use zero-based budgeting to analyse needs and costs in the programmes and projects led by officials, and challenge spending for each new period to progressively compress costs.

"It will develop and implement a vigorous debt reduction strategy."

Rotorua's six other mayoral candidates respond:

Steve Chadwick:
In my opinion there's nothing new in this policy to the previous announcement of how this candidate intends to restructure committees. I believe the proposed finance committee is remarkably similar to the current committees of Strategy, Policy and Finance and Operations and Monitoring with a new title and some added responsibilities of risk mitigation and a rather odd rolling review of the finances.
Committees of council are agreed by an incoming council, not the mayor alone.
What does he intend to achieve that isn't currently happening?
We are reducing debt while also investing in growth. We do this transparently and only commercially sensitive issues are discussed confidentially.

Rob Kent:
Elected officials do not determine how council staff do their jobs - that is the sole responsibility of the chief executive.
His promise "to make continuous improvements to revenue collection, capital and operational expenditure, programme and project management, debt management...", is in my opinion little more than empty promises.

Rangimarie Kingi:
Rotorua needs a starting point for change. Understanding this means to address debt, not pay down.
We are at the end of an era of the decimal point accounting system finance reports altered and presented. Overdue for a transitional change to a higher dollar value system for New Zealand.
Rotorua can lead.
We need to replace Queen Elizabeth II and her lower standard slavery dollar. This policy is an opportunity to develop a new dollar value - financial reporting system - to clear that debt, for a new start.

Frances Louis:
No! I'm appalled. I adore your team member ex-councillor Julie Calnan, but I'm afraid Reynold you disappoint me. In my opinion you have just made Steve Chadwick, our competitor, look good.

Mark Gould:
There is no doubt Rotorua Lakes Council is carrying significant debt. However, it is imperative that the issue of debt reduction be managed in a prudent and sensible manner.
It would be a mistake to reduce debt at the cost of services and social responsibility.
If elected my team and I would undertake an urgent review of council funding and costs with a view to forming private partnerships that ensure all services are maintained to the fair expectations of the community.
We must also consider future risks and one off costs to ensure we are better prepared than we have been previously.

John Rakei-Clark:
Dr Macpherson speaks his mind and I look forward to working with a person filled with passion and desire.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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