Succession of bad financial news for embattled councillors

EDITORIAL

Gisborne District Council could be struggling to keep its overall rates increases at not more than two percent; that was the grim message for district councillors this week.

This week’s marathon final meeting for the year contained two items where the council definitely is faced with heavy extra spending.

The biggest of these by far was the news that the wetlands option, being considered as an alternative way of dealing with the city’s wastewater as part of a new resource consent, has ballooned.

Councillors sat grim-faced as they listened to BECA consultants outline a range of potential costs ranging up to an awesome $68m, far more than the $12m already budgeted. Obviously that is not a viable option and chief executive Judy Campbell has pointed out that there are viable options costing less than $38m, which can be revised even further.

The council has decided to consider its trial of the wetlands option in the meantime as it works towards a deadline of June to decide which way to go.

In the meantime, the wastewater options review group has a massive task ahead of it as it tries to prune the costs.

The council also agreed to look at reducing the timeline for the upgrade of the Waipaoa River Control scheme from 15 to 10 years meaning it would be finished by 2025. There is $15m committed to the project now.

Chief executive Judy Campbell told the council that decision would come at a premium with budget details to be worked out later.

The council may also have to consider speeding up its DrainWise programme, intended to take domestic water out of the wastewater scheme, which will also be costly.

Coming on a day when the council was told the costs for upgrading the library and repairing the earthquake-prone Lawson Field Theatre were higher than budgeted, it seemed like a succession of bad financial news for the embattled councillors.

Keeping overall rate increases to not more than two percent is a key policy of the council, but one that is looking harder and harder all the time.

Gisborne District Council could be struggling to keep its overall rates increases at not more than two percent; that was the grim message for district councillors this week.

This week’s marathon final meeting for the year contained two items where the council definitely is faced with heavy extra spending.

The biggest of these by far was the news that the wetlands option, being considered as an alternative way of dealing with the city’s wastewater as part of a new resource consent, has ballooned.

Councillors sat grim-faced as they listened to BECA consultants outline a range of potential costs ranging up to an awesome $68m, far more than the $12m already budgeted. Obviously that is not a viable option and chief executive Judy Campbell has pointed out that there are viable options costing less than $38m, which can be revised even further.

The council has decided to consider its trial of the wetlands option in the meantime as it works towards a deadline of June to decide which way to go.

In the meantime, the wastewater options review group has a massive task ahead of it as it tries to prune the costs.

The council also agreed to look at reducing the timeline for the upgrade of the Waipaoa River Control scheme from 15 to 10 years meaning it would be finished by 2025. There is $15m committed to the project now.

Chief executive Judy Campbell told the council that decision would come at a premium with budget details to be worked out later.

The council may also have to consider speeding up its DrainWise programme, intended to take domestic water out of the wastewater scheme, which will also be costly.

Coming on a day when the council was told the costs for upgrading the library and repairing the earthquake-prone Lawson Field Theatre were higher than budgeted, it seemed like a succession of bad financial news for the embattled councillors.

Keeping overall rate increases to not more than two percent is a key policy of the council, but one that is looking harder and harder all the time.

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