Pool Row Deepens

Cr Lester says Guru’s ‘unhelpful’ at difficult time

By Alan Tristram

KCDC Councillor Tony Lester has taken Cr K Gurunathan to task for his claim the KCDC should be making sure pool workers are paid properly rather than spending on a second hydroslide at the new Aquatic Centre.

Cr Lester says the following sentence is incorrect:

‘Kāpiti Coast Councillor K Gurunathan has condemned his own Mayor and fellow councillors for splurging $420,000 more on the new swimming pool while many pool workers are not being paid.”(Kapiti Independent, March 5)’

“But,” Cr Lester says:No money has been spent or committed.  A second hydroslide has been included for consideration only in the Draft Annual Plan. 

‘This is by no means a definite decision, but a proposal that will go out for public comment as part of community consultation on the Draft Annual Plan.”

Protracted negotiations have been going on between various parties since news of Mainzeal’s collapse last month, which brought work to a halt on the Aquatic Centre, along with 40 Mainzeal sites around the country.

Explaining why he thinks Guru is wrong, Cr Lester says: “Councillors discussed some reasons why it could be prudent to include a second hydroslide now rather than in the future, but in the end the community must be decide on these spending priorities.

“Councillors made it very clear that no final decision would be made until the final costs of the project were better known.

“The suggestion that Council should make good Mainzeal’s debts by paying out sub contractors is ill considered.

“Whilst Council has every sympathy for the sub-contractors and their families, and is working hard, along with the Receivers to get them back on site, we cannot expect Kāpiti ratepayers to take on the responsibilities of a multi-national company.”

Cr Lester says: “It is also doubtful that such payments would comply with the recently amended Local Government Act.

“Councillor Gurunathan’s comments are most unhelpful at a time when the Receivers are in the middle of complex and delicate negotiations with sub contractors”

 

I think such expenditure (i.e. payment to the subcontractors of the shortfall between what the receiver’s pay out and what was lawfully invoiced by the local subcontractors) would likely be permissible under the recently amended LGA. What are often referred to as the ‘powers of general competance’ (s12) were not changed. The relevant sections are:

12 Status and powers
(1) A local authority is a body corporate with perpetual succession.

(2) For the purposes of performing its role, a local authority has—

(a) full capacity to carry on or undertake any activity or business, do any act, or enter into any transaction; and

(b) for the purposes of paragraph (a), full rights, powers, and privileges.

So, the act of reimbursement of the shortfall (i.e. entering into such a transaction) does seem within the powers granted to the LA. Also noting however S12(4) requires that;

(4) A territorial authority must exercise its powers under this section wholly or principally for the benefit of its district.

Which might suggest that only those subcontractors who either live within and/or whose businesses are domiciled within the district would be eligible.

I guess the point I would make is we do live in extraordinary times. A great deal of what local governments might need to do for members of their communities in future could well be very different to what it has been in the past. The notion of community has been a neglected dimension of our thinking under the spread of the globalisation ethic. It is interesting to think back to a time when the design/build of such a civic facility would have (by necessity as well as by local preference) been within the capability and capacity of the very community for which it was being built.

Excellent response from Cr Lester. Now the public and ratepayers have been alerted and fully informed. Let them be the judge.