Local Body Elections 2016

Three trips in with Air Chathams on the Auckland-Whanganui service -- what's the verdict?

Well, it's actually really good. Easy online booking. Emailed flight reminders. No check-in kiosks but real people who will hand you a boarding pass. Departures and arrivals on time. Comfortable plane, with a nice cup of tea and bikkies on the mid-morning leg. Lollies, water and in-flight service from people that genuinely seem to care.

I'm impressed and wish them all the best. Avoid the drive to Palmy and support our local service.



Hospital care

I am writing this letter to convey my appreciation for the excellent care and support shown to myself and my husband by the nursing, medical and all the other staff working in the Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation Ward at Whanganui Hospital during my recent admission following a stroke.

The kindness shown helped me through what has, for both myself and my husband, been a difficult ordeal and eased my transition back to my normal everyday life.

Once again I would like to convey how grateful I am for the excellent care I was given.


$41m disaster

I have to fully agree with both Wanganui Chronicle letters contributors Russell Eades and mayoral aspirant Andy Jarden regarding the shocking decision and $41 million disaster the majority of present councillors have shackled this city and its ratepayers with for the future.

Remember, the true cost is actually $15 million for the original plant plus $10 million in remedial costs. Now a proposed $41 million for a plant that may only be used to just 40 per cent of its capacity. That's a $66 million absolute disgrace that many of the present councillors and those seeking re-election were party to in the series of bad decisions leading to the current situation.

The council inquiry into the failed plant with an original estimate of $100,000 -- and now we are told up to $200,000 -- is only looking at council procedures concerning the plant and will not actually address why the plant failed or if it could be resurrected. So here we go again; wasted ratepayers' money and what will inevitably be a whitewash result.

When the decision was made at the extraordinary council meeting on August 9 to proceed with the latest $41 million spend, I was shocked to hear some councillors and our mayor imply that $41 million was not that big a spend, with no apparent regard to the huge debt burden they were committing this city's ratepayers to for years to come.

Surely the deadline and this big commitment could have been delayed until after the council elections. Ultimately, it's the new councillors and mayor who will be saddled and hamstrung with any further expenditure or development projects. Not once at this meeting was a delay requested because of the pending election.

Congratulations must go to councillors Charlie Anderson, Philippa Baker-Hogan and Rob Vinsen, who voted against the spend. As Russell Eades says "those who voted 'yes' need to get the message from ratepayers that this decision is just not good enough" .


� Dave Hill is standing for the Whanganui District Council in October

Help for voters

Good news that the councillors have voted for our new $42 million plant. Good news because now we know who not to for vote at the upcoming elections. Any councillor who believes that Wanganui can afford that sort of money has to be in La La Land. Do they honestly believe that a house owner in our lovely little town with a property worth $250,000 can afford to pay $3000 a year in rates? That is $60 per week.

Helen Craig thinks we should go ahead and spend the money we do not have to cater for businesses that we also do not have, and will probably not ever get. Isn't that putting the cart before the horse?

As for the councillors who are standing down at the next election and chose to vote on this enormous issue, shame on you. You should have abstained, especially Mayor Annette.

As for Kym Fell, he would be better to see how he can shed half the managers he has working for him so we can afford the salary bill. Ask for a written job description from each manager, Kym. I believe you would be surprised at the overlapping and the non-requirement of many of them.


Cheaper finance

No sooner had council vowed to "a financial strategy of reduced borrowing and repaying debt" (amended 10-year Plan) than it finds itself having to admit that more borrowing will be necessary to fund the new wastewater plant. But from what source? On what terms?

Page 78 of the plan reveals that "Council funds debt from bank credit lines and from issuing local authority stock, either through private placement or through the NZ Local Government Funding Agency". This explains the assumption that loan moneys can be secured at 4.5 per cent interest p.a. -- with loan plus the debt-servicing being paid over 25 years. This would mean rates and usage fees having to pay well over double the $41 million estimated to be the raw cost of the scheme.

Backtrack to those words "private placement". Where in the laws of our land is it prescribed that capital for our public infrastructures must be privately sourced, then rented to local and central governments at interest? The answer? Nowhere! The practice is based on custom plus the dependence of private investors on owning low-risk public securities.

Thankfully, the first Labour (Savage) Government invented the idea of borrowing from the newly nationalised Reserve Bank at around 1 per cent interest. Such loans funded the building of state houses, bridges, roads etc, thus reflating a depressed economy as unused labour and physical resources were put to work.

Although today's Labour Party no longer supports this policy, Social Credit and a growing number of NZ First members demand that such a financial mechanism be re-employed, as already allowed for in the Public Finance Act-- which allows government to borrow from any individual or organisation. Now, with the local body elections imminent, it would be enlightening to know what council hopefuls have to say.