As the current Council approaches the end of our Triennium, I look back on the last 3 years with some pride as I believe we have done pretty well given the many challenges we faced in the same period.
We inherited a Council which was in a pretty desolate state. Tauranga City Council in 2010 was void of a CEO, staff morale was at a record low and we had what appeared to be an out-of-control debt and rate increases. The Chambers was a battleground for one of the most conflict-laden Council in the previous Triennium. To say firearm ammunition was once brought into the same room is not an exaggeration.
As I disclosed in a previous post, I have intentionally chosen not to read any press about the current election because I deem most of it to be negative and demoralising. But that hasn't stopped other people from telling me what they have read and to be honest, everything I have heard so far appear to be rather petty matters.
To date, the worst thing I have done in my term remains my missing 15% of recorded meetings. There hasn't been anything worse than that reported.
That tells me that the media doesn't really have a lot of bad press to write about us. And that confirms my belief that my colleagues and I have done pretty well this term. Let's see...
1. Having appointed our new CEO and just as we thought we were on our way to better days at the Council, we were met with the Rena Disaster. Council staff handled this well, not without errors but in my opinion, it was to the best of our ability given the nature of the event.
2. Our new CEO unexpectedly passed away and we further went through another process of appointing 2 CEOs while in the midst of an organisation-wide restructuring. The city is now under the management of former Wellington chief, Mr Garry Poole. This man has demonstrated his experience and astuteness to me and have left me in no doubt that Tauranga is in very capable hands.
3. Rate increases are now under control, capped at 3%++. We have reduced spending dramatically and that was demonstrated by a rates surplus of $3.2 million.
4. We voted to increase the toll charges for Route K to increase its revenue as a first step towards negotiations with NZTA to take over the road and our debt on it. The finances of Route K has improved significantly and Council continues our negotiations with NZTA on this issue.
5. Our overdue and inundated Stormwater system is finally being upgraded to cope with flooding and the city's growth.
6. The Pilot Bay Boardwalk has brought a new look and new life to one of the most popular recreation area in Tauranga. It is absolutely beautiful and will be officially opened in just over a week.
7. The Waterfront playground as part of the redevelopment project, has brought more families to the area. The redevelopment is as initiative to revitalise Tauranga's CBD which remains a major issue for our city.
8. We completed the organisation-wide restructure and as a result of that, have amalgamated Tauranga City Venues Ltd (TCVL), Tauranga City Aquatics Ltd (TCAL) into Bay Leisure & Events Ltd (BLEL). We expect more efficiency and cost-savings as a result of this CCO restructure.
Aside from the Waterfront redevelopment, other initiatives in the works include:
1. The Marine Precinct
2. The international hotel and university campus in the CBD
3. Tauranga's first Disability Strategy
There's more but these are the big ones that come to mind now.
The achievement of the current Council is not complete without mentioning our cohesiveness. Besides one particular Councillor who opposes pretty much everything and creates issues that aren't there, we have been a really good group. I personally worked really well with Councillors Larry Baldock and Terry Molloy. We could not have come out winning had we not been so cohesive as a Council. Credit is due to the Mayor Stuart Crosby as I remember this was his election promise in 2010.
I have no doubt learnt a lot in my first term and I have thoroughly enjoyed it despite the never-ending challenges and frustrations. I can also say that the past few weeks this election period have been a whole new lesson for me, not necessary one that I cared to learn. Nonetheless, I still hope to be re-elected into the new Council going forward so I may remain a part of our Tauranga city's growth. I am and always will be passionate about this city.
I am really looking forward to the finish line and I hope to see you again there.