Check the terms
Titahi Bay Library is an important community facility within the struggling shopping complex and many residents value its presence. This is reflected in the good number of people who currently use it, despite its limited opening hours (which do not accommodate anyone who has a fulltime job for example).
Should the library close, many residents will have access issues due to inconvenience, mobility or transport. Parents with young children use Titahi Bay Library because it is within walking distance of home or school. Retired people pop in when it is open to read the newspaper and have a chat. I have observed the often huge piles of books returned to the library when closed, which show that there is a demand for this branch.
It would be a very sad day for the Bay if the library were to close. Library facilities are core services (along with rubbish collection and clean water). I urge PCC to ensure that sufficient funds are made available to keep Titahi Bay Library open.
I note that the council proposes to spend limited funds on city centre revitalisation. Must this be at the expense of the Titahi Bay community?
MELANIE FISHER, Titahi Bay. City Libraries manager Brian Anderson responds: As part of the review of library service levels to meet the LTP budget envelope it was identified that hours would need to be reduced at some branch libraries and that Plimmerton branch library could be closed.
With a need to reduce operational costs for libraries while still maintaining a core service there is an option to either reduce hours at Titahi Bay or to close it entirely. However, the latter would not occur without further consultation with the community.
Cost reductions over the first five years of the LTP would impact on Titahi Bay hours in years one and two and could lead to a review of its viability in year three. At this stage, until the final decision on the LTP budget, these remain options not confirmed decisions. Editor,
On Page 36 of the Porirua City Council Long Term Plan, there is reference to the council using a new lender.
Councils borrowing from banks and other lending institutions, are required to give a charge over their rates. That’s the security for the loan. Effectively it is a contingent liability on every ratepayer’s property in Porirua.
This means the lender, if they wanted a loan repaid more quickly, or even immediately, can require the council to impose a special rate, or simply appropriate rates as they are paid.
So effectively, every Porirua ratepayer is guaranteeing Porirua City Council’s loans. However, it appears the possible new lender, requires our council to not only give a charge over Porirua ratepayers’ rates for PCC loans but also the loans of every other borrower and the lender themselves.
That’s like you taking out a mortgage to buy a house. When you get home and read the loan documentation carefully, you find you have not only agreed to repay your mortgage but the mortgages of all the bank’s other customers if requested and to repay any losses the bank itself may incur.
Ratepayers have four very important issues to consider:
1. Should PCC be executing such an agreement, without first providing full details to ratepayers and seeking our specific approval (unless you consider you have been notified, if it’s buried in a 325-page document)?
2. Do you want PCC to borrow money for the city centre, buying land and buildings and a new head office building, when there is no business case (and no private developers, investors and financiers are interested in taking on the projects)?
3. If the projects do go ahead, and there are cost overruns, delays, interest rate rises etcetera, are you happy that the loans to fund these non-core projects will have an adverse affect on your rates and, in turn, property values, quite possibly for generations?
4. And if these non-core projects go ahead, are you happy for at least another 10 years’ delay to repairs and improvements of core infrastructure like water, roads, waste water and stormwater?
ANDREW WELLUM, Camborne. PCC Corporate Services general manager Euan Dempsey responds: While Porirua City Council has indicated it is considering utilising the lending facilities of the local government funding agency, it has not entered into any agreement and would not do so until it had fully consulted ratepayers. The current borrowing facilities the council has are competitive and are serving its needs in what is a very competitive market. Mr Wellum, as a Greaterwellington Regional Council ratepayer, may be aware that Greater Wellington is a shareholder of the LGFA and as such they have secured their borrowings against all ratepayers in the Wellington region.
Whilst council has significant assets, in excess of $1 billion, it is unable to borrow against these and it is normal practice to secure any borrowings against the rates revenue. Council’s debt borrowing will only see a minimal rise forecasted over the next 10 years as outlined in the Draft LTP that has been consulted on and has received support. The proposed debt funding will largely be for infrastructural purposes such as water, waste water and storm water renewals and new developments to ensure that council maintains the appropriate level of service as outlined in the Draft LTP.