In a series of marathon meetings spanning three days this week, the 11 elected members of Tauranga City Council have debated the most controversial issues in their draft plan for the next decade.

There was bickering and storytelling, eloquent speeches and "dad jokes". The museum was culled and transport was prioritised. Here's a wrap of some other big decisions:

Rating changes

Major changes to Tauranga's rating system will be phased in over the next three years.

In spite of strong opposition from the business community, the council chose to press on with the reintroduction of a differential that will increase the burden for commercial ratepayers.

It will be less severe, however, than the 1:1.6 ratio initially proposed. The council settled on a 1:1.2 differential, to be gradually introduced over the next three years.

Brooke Courtney, president of the Bay of Plenty Property Council, which lobbied against a differential, said the decision was "disappointing and short-sighted".

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"Businesses are being told - not asked - to pay more without any evidence of how it will benefit them," she said.

The Uniform Annual General Charge - a proportion of each year's rates take split evenly among ratepayers regardless of property value - will be reduced from 30 per cent to 15 per cent in 5 per cent increments over three years.

Councillors agreed to set a targeted resilience rate but scrapped a proposed targeted rate for city centre improvements.

Staff were asked to continue reviewing targeted rate options, and to specifically look into options to rate online short-term accommodation providers.

The final rates increases have yet to be set but councillors are aiming for 3.8 per cent next year.

Tauranga's council-owned retirement villages, including Mount Maunganui's Pitau Village, will be sold to a community housing provider. Photo / George Novak
Tauranga's council-owned retirement villages, including Mount Maunganui's Pitau Village, will be sold to a community housing provider. Photo / George Novak

Elder housing

Tauranga City Council has reaffirmed its decision to sell its portfolio of retirement villages to one or more community housing providers.

Elected members agreed that any money raised from the sales of the nine villages - 246 units - will be set aside in a reserve for elder or social housing-related use.

Councillor Steve Morris said that provision proved the divestment was "not a cash grab".

He said he would also like to see covenants in any sales agreements that would protect existing tenants and "protect the character of the villages as elder housing, not wider social housing".

The proposal to sell had the support of 13 tenants who made submissions to the draft plan. Another nine said the council should keep the housing.

Only councillor Catherine Stewart voted against selling, saying she was wary of losing the land and buildings.

"Once the land is gone it is gone forever."

Supporting councillors emphasised the welfare of elderly tenants was the number one consideration in the decision to divest.

Tenants would also be able to access the Government's Income-Related Rent Subsidy, which was not available to people in council housing.

If the Government removed that exclusion and made funding available to redevelop the villages before any were sold, the council gave itself an option to reconsider its decision to divest.

The council wants to have a kerbside glass recycling collection service up and running this year. Photo / George Novak
The council wants to have a kerbside glass recycling collection service up and running this year. Photo / George Novak

Glass recycling

"I caught my partner putting an empty wine bottle into the rubbish the other day."

The recycling near-miss was one reason councillor Leanne Brown gave for supporting a resolution for the council to press ahead with its plan to have a rates-funded kerbside glass collection service up and running as soon as possible.

The service, which had the council's near-unanimous support, will cost ratepayers about $26 a year per household and was on track to start in late 2018, councillors heard.

Council infrastructure manager Christine Jones said tenders had closed and a supplier would be selected this month.

Resource recovery and waste manager Rebecca Maiden said the Packaging Forum had agreed to put $165,000 towards the cost to buy 45-litre crates for each household.

The council voted 10 to one to commit $1.29 million to the service next financial year, rising to $1.41m in each of the two following years. From there the service would be enveloped into a full council-run waste collection service.

Councillor Larry Baldock was the sole nay vote.

"I don't think it's fair to impose this on everybody in the city when we don't all have glass to recycle."

Mayor Greg Brownless said ratepayers shared the cost of plenty of services that may not be used by all.

"We don't all use parks or read library books, but we do pay for them."

The council is pressing ahead with a plan to take over Tauranga's kerbside waste collection. Photo / File
The council is pressing ahead with a plan to take over Tauranga's kerbside waste collection. Photo / File

Kerbside waste collection

By a narrow margin of one vote, the council agreed to take over provision of the city's residential kerbside waste collection from the commercial sector from 2020 or 2021.

Among the details yet to be settled, however, was how it would be funded - whether by rates, a user-pays model or a mix. The council asked staff to review the options further and report back.

Two-thirds of the 2760 people who made submissions about waste collection supported the council's proposal, even if it was light on details and would mean rates rises.

Councillor Steve Morris said most people saw rubbish collection as a council "core service" like water, sewerage and roads.

"This will become a normal part of council business. We are not the first council to look at this, in fact, we are probably one of the last."

Councillor Rick Curach argued there was too little detail for a decision - especially with stockpiles of recyclable plastic with nowhere to go getting bigger around the country every day.

Other opposing arguments included doubt the council could do it cheaper and the prospect of people having to pay for a service they did not use.

Councillor Max Mason said the community understood all the detail was not yet in, but that was no reason to hold back.

"We should have faith in our ability to make a success of this just like councils all around the country."