Coun­cil­lor Shep­pard breaks ranks on con­tentious fi­nan­cial is­sues

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

The ben­e­fits of the Sis­ter Cities pro­gramme, ques­tion­ing the an­nual con­tracts to Porirua Cham­ber of Com­merce and even clos­ing Can­nons Creek Pool – Tim Shep­pard is not afraid to put for­ward his views.

Last month the North­ern ward coun­cil­lor sent an email ‘‘ broad­cast’’ to many of his con­stituents, the sub­ject be­ing the pro­posed rates rise fore­cast in this year’s Porirua City Coun­cil draft an­nual plan.

He was ex­hort­ing res­i­dents to make a sub­mis­sion to reg­is­ter their dis­plea­sure at the aver­age res­i­den­tial rates rise of more than 4 per cent.

Shep­pard said the fall­ing in­come from Can­nons Creek Pool was of con­cern and that $1 mil­lion more in sav­ings was needed across the board.

‘‘Per­haps we need to bite the bul­let and close the loss-mak­ing Can­nons Creek Pool,’’ he said. ‘‘Per­haps we should ques­tion the $ 275,000 of an­nual con­tracts granted to the Porirua Cham­ber of Com­merce.’’

His com­ments, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing the pool, have cre­ated a stir.

Heather Goode from Plim­mer­ton asked in her draft an­nual plan sub­mis­sion that it re­main open.

‘‘It is al­ways very well used when I’m there and it has very low fees. I love the mix­ing of our com­mu­ni­ties that hap­pens at Can­nons Creek Pool.

‘‘The Porirua Aquatic Cen­tre is quite a long dis­tance away and has the dis­ad­van­tage of not be­ing all one depth.’’

An­other sub­mit­ter, Horst Maczuga from Plim­mer­ton, said Can­nons Creek Pool was ‘‘ a lux­ury for the com­mu­nity’’.

‘‘We have an ex­cel­lent Arena with this fa­cil­ity.’’

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said it was im­por­tant Shep­pard fronted his views in the pub­lic spot­light or to his col­leagues, rather than in an email, as he had done.

Shep­pard said the an­nual plan process was an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity for the pub­lic, and him­self, to air views on their lo­cal author­ity.

‘‘I’m ask­ing ques­tions that I think some of my col­leagues don’t want to.

‘‘There are fi­nan­cial prob­lems that need to be ad­dressed. I’m in a mi­nor­ity when it comes to this and I ac­cept that, but this is what democ­racy al­lows us to do.’’

Shep­pard pointed to the sub­mis­sion by the Porirua Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Group.

In its sub­mis­sion, the group raised ‘‘ dis­turb­ing as­pects in the draft an­nual plan, like the pro­posed aver­age rates rise be­ing much higher than the 2.9 per­cent planned in the 2012-22 long term plan and rises in ex­penses and a net deficit’’.

Shep­pard said the in­ten­tion was to close Can­nons Creek Pool af­ter the Aquatic Cen­tre was built. He was not in favour of a clo­sure.

‘‘ I’m ask­ing ques­tions. It’s un­likely the pool will ever be closed and I’m not ad­vo­cat­ing that.

‘‘But there needs to be more drilling down to un­der­stand why rev­enue is fall­ing and why rates are ris­ing like they are.’’

Ques­tion­ing: Porirua City coun­cil­lor Tim Shep­pard wants more ques­tions asked about the coun­cil’s fi­nan­cial poli­cies.

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