Editorial: Manicured city grass will cost us more

By Kelly Makiha

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If ever there was proof you can't have it all, the argument over Rotorua's long grass in public spaces is it.

There have been several complaints made to The Daily Post about long grass on verges, in playgrounds and public reserves around the city.

We have received letters, emails and phone calls from annoyed ratepayers upset the city was looking rather shabby over the holiday period.

One letter complained of unmown grass in the Rotorua cemetery, saying the RSA section looked "bedraggled and forgotten", which proved upsetting for family members visiting gravesides.

The Rotorua District Council has a simple explanation. Rain and warm weather has resulted in good grass growing conditions resulting in the staff who were working over the Christmas and New Year period having to chase their tails trying to keep up. Staff had been reportedly working 10-hour days, six days a week to catch up.

This was coupled with a council decision in September last year to cut back on vegetation control in some rural areas, including Mamaku, which was where one of the complaints stemmed from.

The cutback was needed after the New Zealand Transport Agency slashed its funding for local roading projects. To maintain the current level of service, the council needed to make savings elsewhere.

While it's understandable that having slightly longer grass isn't as flash, particularly when you're trying to enjoy parks and reserves during the festive period, the council should be cut some slack.

Their staff are entitled to the statutory holidays just like the rest of us. If we make them mow lawns on Christmas Day, we ratepayers will have to fork out the penal rates to pay them.

Cutbacks were also needed to maintain the roading infrastructure. If it didn't put money into that area, we would no doubt be getting letters complaining about potholes and uneven surfaces.

The Daily Post reader Josh Te Kowhai hit the nail on the head with the following comment on our Facebook page.

"I hope everyone on here who is complaining has never taken a holiday and has immaculate lawns at home ... Even council workers need to spend time with their families believe it or not."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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