Tauranga's much-anticipated draft Long-term Plan 2021-2031 has been described as repetitive, confusing and difficult to understand by city commissioners concerned at the level of "council speak" in the original document.
On Monday, Tauranga City Council commissioners adopted the draft Long-term Plan after requesting some of its wording be amended to be better understood. It will then go to auditors before being put out for public consultation.
The plan is a pivotal document that will underpin the city's spending and investment over the next decade. It was also a key reason behind Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta's appointment of commissioners. She highlighted concerns that the city's elected members were not up to the task of developing it on time after a tumultuous year of infighting and personality conflicts.
Commissioners Stephen Selwood, Shadrach Rolleston, Bill Wasley and chairwoman Anne Tolley went through the plan page by page during Monday's meeting.
Selwood questioned the presentation of Tauranga's potential rates increase, which consisted of a graph and table including a breakdown of kerbside services equating to 505 per cent for 2022. He asked council staff to change this to how much a potential rates increase would cost a certain household per week, using the example of about $5 a week - similar to the cost of a large cup of coffee.
Tolley echoed this sentiment when speaking about the plan's section on investment for capital expenditure priorities. She singled out the example: "Development of a new active reserve and associated facilities in the west of the existing urban area" at $12m.
Tolley said the sentence did not specify what it meant or where it was referring to and needed to be reworded to make sense to ratepayers.
"That's our speak, that's council speak."
Tolley also questioned the use of the word "swale" (ditch) in reference to infrastructure investment.
"We are trying to describe infrastructure in a way that people will know what we are talking about. But how many people will know what a swale is?"
Council general manager of infrastructure Nic Johansson said he took on board the feedback and agreed there might be a better word to use.
Later in the meeting, Selwood said most people seemed accepting of having to pay more but did not realise that included developers also.
"The story we have to tell in this consultation document is 'yes, we have a significant funding deficit we have to bridge and we are calling on all responsible parties to pay their fair share'. That's ratepayers, developers and the business community on a regional level and national level.
"It's all hands to the pump here and ... that message is not being told."
Selwood and the other commissioners highlighted key areas they wanted to be amended before deciding to adopt the plan.
Selwood told council staff: "I found reading through this actually quite difficult, quite repetitive. The same messages are kind of conveyed with different lenses but that creates confusion rather than clarity.
"I know time is against us but I suspect if we don't make changes we are going to get pushback by the auditors."
General manager of corporate services Paul Davidson said the team would look into the repetitive nature of the plan as "we do need to do that check ourselves, and we will certainly do that.
"But there are some parts of legislation that by their very nature, like financial strategy and consultation decisions, will always have overlap."