Tauranga residents who enjoy the quiet smoothness of living in streets paved in hot mix have been spared the prospect of rough chip reseals - at least for the time being.
The city council yesterday voted 6-5 to retain the status quo of like-for-like reseals.
It meant that people living in Tauranga's newer subdivisions would not lose their hot mix when the time rolled around for their streets to be resealed.
The decision reversed what the council had proposed to do for the next 10 years. It planned to replace longer lasting hot mix with the much cheaper option of chip seals, and use the savings to catch up with the backlog of reseals created by the council's policy to "sweat" its assets.
Council's transportation operations manager Martin Parkes said there was now a backlog of 85km of roads overdue for a reseal, some by up to six years. He warned that if the council sweated the roads too much they ended up getting into "big dollars".
Even with shorter life of chip seals, hot mix still cost more than twice as much. The policy only affected low volume streets and not Tauranga's main roads where the priority was hot mix.
Councillor Murray Guy said chip reseals represented the best value and best outcome for the people he represented. The council could not afford to keep throwing money into hot mix reseals.
Councillor Rick Curach said that when he bought into Bayfair Estate he thought it was a fine area with quality amenities and he expected that level of service would be retained.
He said his rates had increased by 45 per cent since the global financial crisis began and doubled in the last 10 years. "You can't put up rates and lower the standard of service."
Councillor David Stewart said replacing hot mix with chip seal was a retrograde step. The council should stick with like-for-like until the New Zealand Transport Agency tagged its 43 per cent subsidy for road maintenance to chip seals. Other councillors agreed that the crunch would come when the agency reconsidered paying subsidies on hot mix.
The council expects to receive subsidies totalling $35 million over the next three years.
Also supporting like-for-like were councillors Bill Faulkner, Bill Grainger and Catherine Stewart. Others opposing were Councillors Tony Christiansen, Terry Molloy, Wayne Moultrie and Mayor Stuart Crosby.
The council was nearly unanimous in departing from its previous like-for-like policy on the replacement of expensive ornamental street lights in modern subdivisions. In future they would be replaced with the much cheaper standard lights.