The NZ Taxpayers’ Union pressure group is warning Kāpiti Coast District Council against falling into the trap of spending millions on a new information centre just because the Provincial Growth Fund is putting up half the funding.
In a media release, the Taxpayers’ Union says there are concerns around the motivations behind the project, which some critics have labelled ‘Guru’s Gateway’ because of Mayor K Gurunathan’s 100% support.
The Union says: ‘For instance, the chair of an independent board advising on the matter, George Hickton, has previously acted as an advisor for the tourism operators on Kapiti Island, the obvious beneficiaries of this project.
‘Furthermore, one of the councillors supporting the project also sits on a group lobbying for the Gateway, the Kapiti Economic Development Kotahitanga Board.’
Anti-Gateway petition of over 2,000
Taxpayers’ Union spokesperson Louis Houlbrooke says, “There has been a dearth of public consultation on the matter, despite a petition of over 2000 signatures to stop the proposed Gateway project.
“The ratepayers behind the petition allege that the Council’s own resource consent has 11 non-complying activities.
‘Eyes larger than its stomach’
“This is a clear example of a council’s eyes being larger than its stomach. Kiwis love a bargain, and the Provincial Growth Fund’s dollar-for-dollar funding offer has proven irresistible for a Mayor driven by a desire for a legacy project.”
“The high operational costs of the Gateway in the first few years could easily turn this asset into a liability.
“This is on top of dubious projections of revenue from the project, and the idea of increased biosecurity is laughable when there has been only one recorded breach in the last 20 years.”
Highly indebted Council
The Taxpayers’ Union says the Kāpiti Coast District is one of the country’s most indebted councils.
“Kāpiti Coast District Council is now threatening to increase rates by 8.1%,” it adds.
“The quid pro-quo is that they must demonstrate they’re spending ratepayer money with caution.
“Simply because a cash-rich government body is offering taxpayer funds, it doesn’t justify throwing an equal amount of ratepayer money at a dubious legacy project.”