Once, in the distant past, the foundation of education was the "3 Rs". That is reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmetic.

That concept disappeared years ago. More's the pity.

Once in the distant past, local government was about the "3 Rs" too. Rates, roads and rubbish.

In other words, councils should collect the rates, build and maintain the roads and pick up the rubbish.


To be fair that was pretty simplistic. Councils have always built, owned and maintained civic buildings like town halls, they've provided libraries and they've looked after parks and reserves.

But in Tauranga, it seems they don't even do the basics right.

This year my wife and I moved from an apartment, where the body corporate took care of the rubbish and recycling collections, to a house.

The day after we moved in I noticed that there were no rubbish bins left by the previous owner. Naively, I rang the council asking for some new ones to be dropped off.

The young woman at the call centre very nicely told me that I had to arrange that myself, and very kindly gave me the names of some companies I could contact.

What the?

Having previously paid rates in six local authorities before becoming a Tauranga property owner, you come to expect rubbish collection is a right, a basic council function.

Not here.

You either pay your $500 a year to Waste Management or JJ Richards or whoever, or you take your own rubbish to the tip – where a carload of rubbish will cost you at least $13.32 anyway.

So for my $500 I was given three bins – general rubbish, recycling and green waste.

Except that the rules said no glass in the recycling.

That's because, according to council contractors, it's too dangerous for the workers to sort because they might cut their hands.

Ever heard of strong gloves?

But don't worry, said the council. There'll be a neighbourhood glass recycling centre. In my case, it was at the Mount Maunganui RSA carpark.

I went there once and unloaded some empties. Then I went back, maybe a month later, and it didn't exist anymore.

Apparently, there was too much noise for the neighbours and the RSA patrons from the empties being dumped. Who would have thought?

Being a good citizen, I took my empties down to the recycling bin at the Te Maunga transfer station.

Others, so I've heard, just put their bottles in the general rubbish. Wrong on so many counts, but who could blame them?

But it seems we've finally enough had enough of this nonsense. This spring, we're going to get kerbside glass recycling again.

But nothing is that simple. On top of some of the most expensive rates in the country, Tauranga ratepayers have to cough up another $26 a year to have the glass picked up.

Why? Can't a council which already charges me 0.36 per cent of my property's assessed capital value in rates, not afford a further measly $26 to collect my empty bottles?

Perhaps, they could cut back on the $220 I pay them for "community" development or the $110 contribution to "economic development" or the $715 of my rates that goes towards "transportation". That wouldn't be for those mostly empty Bayhopper yellow buses would it?

And if you think 0.36 per cent of capital value is a measly percentage, compare it to Auckland. The number for our former property there was 0.22 per cent - rubbish and recycling included, although water was extra. The rates charge for our holiday place in Wanaka is 0.25 per cent of the CV - all water and all rubbish included.

Something is amiss in this city. Rates are high and the service is low. There's a council election next year.