As hearings got under way for the Thames-Coromandel District Council's Ten Year Plan, resident Ben Dunbar-Smith asked councillors: "Why are we asset-stripping Whangamatā?"
TCDC is proposing to sell a piece of industrial-zoned land at 101 Lindsay Rd for an expected $3 million.
The council has a forecasted $152m debt this financial year.
Selling the land would save ratepayers $8.40 annually, while a second option to keep the land and generate revenue from leasing it would save $4.50 on rates annually.
A third option to allow community use of the site would not cost ratepayers anything.
With several community groups wishing to use the land for initiatives from a community marae to a biking facility, Dunbar-Smith asked councillors to delay any decisions on its sale.
"The land was taken under the Public Works Act so it has to be referred back to the previous owners if it's going to be sold as surplus," he told the council, which TCDC's property manager said was not the case.
"The community wants to keep this site. It doesn't require any money, it just requires keeping the land and not selling it. Our plea is to delay decisions and give us a chance to make it work," said Dunbar-Smith.
He was critical of the feedback form used in consultation for the Ten Year Plan, saying ratepayers outside of Whangamata would have no idea of the importance of the land to community groups because none of the information was included in consultation.
"There's a whole group of people that want to use this land that is currently lying vacant. But we weren't allowed to submit this as part of the LTP. It was denied.
"Most of all, what's really winding up Whangamatā people is the $3m from their asset going into the black hole known as the collective consolidated fund. There's no knowledge of where this money is going to.
"If it was being sold and it was going back to Whangamatā, maybe there might be some validity. But there's not.
"Why are we asset-stripping Whangamatā?"
A TCDC spokesperson said there is no impediment to the sale of the 101 Lindsay Rd property – it does not have to be offered back to any previous owner.
TCDC is facing a blowout on rates affordability for its ratepayers.
Borrowing limits have been set to keep internal and external debt less than 200 per cent of total revenue.
The council is forecast to take $101m in rates in 2020/21, with an operating expenditure of $99m.
Tairua-Pauanui faces the biggest share of the average rates take per residential property next financial year at $3699.00.
Dunbar-Smith said there was a failure to monitor operating expenditure monthly, leading to a $6m budget blowout: "Which is why you are now having to sell off assets.
"What used to happen was axed by the CEO when he came in. I draw your attention to $2m on external contractors to cover an NZTA shortfall on the Whitianga Town Centre (upgrade). Someone thought NZTA would give $2m to a road that is not a state highway."
Mayor Sandra Goudie interjected to Dunbar-Smith's presentation at this point.
"Could you narrow this to the LTP?"
Councillors heard numerous submissions to their Long Term Plan in hearings last week.
The council will deliberate and make final decisions on our budgets, projects and levels of service in late June, in time for the new financial year beginning July 1.
• View the LTP consultation page on www.tcdc.govt.nz for more information on the proposals and the supporting documents.
Proposed 2021/22 rating examples for average residential property by Community Board Area
Mercury Bay $3047