Village Planning slated
Porirua’s award-winning Village Planning programme has come under fire for unfairness, triggering a review of how funds are allocated.
On May 31, a proposed budget for the 2013-2014 year was pulled from a council meeting agenda after the Whitby Residents’ Association threatened to publicly complain that its top priority, parking, had not been approved.
The incident triggered a review meeting on July 17 between Porirua City Council staff and councillors, where Kapi- Mana News understands Whitby’s $ 12,000 allocation was increased to $28,000, including about $20,000 for a study of the suburb’s parking problems.
Until the revised budget is released on August 15, it will be unclear whether other villages have had their share of the $ 500,000 budget reduced as a result.
At the July 17 workshop Village Planning manager Ian Barlow resolved to make his criteria more transparent and to invite submissions from villages earlier, well before the council’s Annual Plan process.
‘‘It needs to be revised, reviewed, needs to be more transparent,’’ said Whitby Residents’ Association chair Geoff Mowday.
‘‘We didn’t feel we had got a very good percentage of the $500,000 when we pay a good proportion of the council rates.
‘‘Of course other villages are entitled to money. What really irked us was that parking for Paremata had been approved. Where’s the equality, where’s the fairness of this?’’
There was confusion over whether projects would be declined if the council considered them ‘‘ business as usual’’, Mr Mowday said.
All projects should be considered for Village Planning if they were a village’s top priority, Mr Mowday said.
‘‘We felt [parking at Lakeside] was an urgent need, the thing the village needed most.’’
Village Planning manager Ian Barlow said Village Planning was about far more than money.
If a village identified a project, Mr Barlow said he could help in many ways, whether financially, or liaising with organisations such as the NZ Transport Agency, or clearing roadblocks within council departments to fast-track a project.
‘‘It’s not about the money. It would be better not to tell villages how much it costs. That would be the ultimate,’’ Mr Barlow said.
‘‘This debate about how much you get compared to how much someone else gets rocks Village Planning to the core.’’
When Village Planning began in 2005, the budget was $1 million and there were three villages. Now there were 12 villages, and this was the first year it had been impossible to consider every project, Mr Barlow said.
Dividing the $500,000 between 12 villages evenly would defeat the purpose of the programme, he said. Over time each village should get a fair share, he said.
‘‘The idea of the programme is to undertake projects for and on behalf of a community. Some will have projects that are going to be expensive. The only way to do that and balance the books is to have some villages having more [money] than others.’’
Whitby’s parking request was lodged in April, late in the budget process, and more work was needed on it, Mr Barlow said.
‘‘We need to know how much thinking has gone into the design ... and are there other options? We have to be conscious that we’re spending ratepayers’ money.’’
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Project boss: Village Planning manager Ian Barlow says the issue is not just about money.