The former Kapiti mayoral candidate Chris Turver is calling for a Government inquiry into what he calls incompetence at the Kapiti Coast District Council, which he says has led to huge over-spending.
Mr Turver says the KCDC’s latest spending blowouts on major projects will cost ratepayers almost $10 million and demonstrates ‘a breathtaking level of incompetence which has to be reined in.’
And he says this incompetence would not be tolerated in any business or professional organisation.
Mr Turver says the blowouts include the planned aquatic centre (up $7.3m to $17.8m), new Council offices (up $1m to $8.2m), and Otaki’s main street reconstruction fiasco (up $1m to $3m).
“The KCDC’s dismissal of the overspends as “errors” shows an arrogance that is out of place when so many people are struggling to make ends meet and a lack of accountability by a Council which should be safeguarding ratepayer interests,” he says.
“We elect Councils to govern, we expect responsible decision-making, and we don’t give them blank cheques to cover their mistakes.”
Costing blunders ‘alarming’
Mr Turver says the scale of project costing blunders is so alarming that an independent review of the Council’s operations is urgently needed to stop wastage and to put affordability into decision-making.
He says Kapiti Grey Power’s formal request to the Auditor General for an investigation is one way to go.
Another is to ask the Minister for Local Government to appoint an independent commissioner to sort out the KCDC’s mismanagement.
He says:”The Council’s statement that it will recoup overspends from land sales does not wash because much of that land was originally purchased with ratepayer money in the first place so the net effect is much the same.
Selling land ‘short sighted’
“Selling land would be a short-sighted solution because it would limit Kapiti’s development options for the future,” he says.
Mr Turver says the Council has already made Kapiti one of the most indebted districts in the country through its heavy borrowing programme — and as a small district with 50,000 people it doesn’t have the ratepayer income of a major population centre like Wellington to absorb big hits.
Still to come, he says, are the ‘real’ costs of the Council’s big ticket water supply solutions, including $23.8 million for a Waikanae river recharge system, land purchase for a dam, and new groundwater bores; $32 million for eventually constructing a dam; and $8 million for its strongly opposed water meter proposal.
Mr Turver say that, given the Council’s track record, its estimates are again likely to fall short.
He concludes: “It’s become critical that responsibility and affordability are built back into Council decision making and I appeal to elected Councillors to drive that process to restore credibility.”