Waikanae Recycling Falls Victim To 2nd Council Vote

Kāpiti citizen John Vickerman says he was seated in the public gallery during the Long Term Plan workshop when Waikanae Recycling was discussed — and he’s disturbed by the Kāpiti Council’s sudden change of mind.

In the second vote) following the five hands for and five against, Chief Executive Wayne Maxwell asked Mayor K Gurunathan whether he would like to use his casting vote. ( at an earlier workshop seven councillors voted to keep the Waikanae Recycling centre, with only three votes against ).

The Mayor then accepted the invitation from Chief Executive and used his casting vote to kill any further discussion and affirm the closing of the Waikanae Recycling (WR) on 1 June 2021 (separate from the green waste drop off).

In the workshop on 27 May a show of councillor hands was 7 votes (Randall, Prvanov, McCann, Handford, Elliott, Cootes and Compton) to retain the Waikanae Recycling and 3 votes (Holborow, Halliday and Gurunathan) for closure.

But on 1 June, Councillors’ Cootes and McCann changed sides making it 5 for and 5 against.

One has to wonder what pressure was brought to bear on these two within the ‘informal discussion’ referred to by Councillor Cootes to defect to the opposition. My understanding is that councillor Buswell abstained due to potential public perception of a conflict of interest.

Council workshop held in public
This was a workshop held in public – I would not have been there otherwise. If the Mayor (or Chair) has no procedural right to a casting vote in a workshop (as Bestgetyrfactsrighteh has indicated), how come the meeting authority on procedure, aka the Chief Executive, took it upon himself to invite the mayor to make a casting vote?

It is noted that leading up to the vote Councillors Elliott, Prvanov, Handford and Waikanae Community Board Deputy Chair Margaret Stevenson-Wright made multiple cogent points for the WR to remain open.

Greewaste sales kiosk at Waikanae

In the 27 May workshop the LTP budgeted amounts did not include any allowance for the WR to remain open.

Following the 7 votes to 3 for it to stay open, an amount of around $123,000 per annum was put back in. (The full year cost for 2019/20 was said to be $111,533 – in 2016/17 it was $60,316).

Formerly the cost of the WR had come out of the general districtwide rates (which I had taken as being the Kapiti wide district), but in the 1 June workshop KCDC staff advocated for the cost of the WR service to be met by a targeted rate on Waikanae ratepayers.

Asked what the cost would be for a Waikanae ratepayer if the WR was to remain open, the answer was an additional $17 per annum for an average Waikanae ratepayer and that the average rates bill for Waikanae was $4,200.

Following that a prominent Waikanae resident and appointed member to the Audit and Risk Committee asserted his influence in saying that if he had an extra $17 added to his annual rates he would be ‘grumpy’.

Councillor Holborow’s position

Councillor Holborow, sitting next to him, then came out confirming what seemed plain from the start, that she was against keeping the WR open because other wards do not have one.

Holborow’s argument was hollow, simply based on why should you have one if we (Paekakariki) don’t – ignoring the fact that Paraparaumu has Otaihanga and that Paekakariki has a supported Surf Club and other supported projects which other wards do not have.

Then the Kāpiti CE, Wayne Maxwell, declared that the WR facility was only introduced because of heightened accident risk of vehicles turning right at the Otaihanga round-about prior to it having been upgraded. (One wonders where this assertion suddenly came from because Maxwell was not CE when this occurred).

McCann who was sitting next to Holborow said he lived in Otaihanga. He had not realised the WR was only there for road safety reasons – there was nothing unsafe about Otaihanga Road or the round-about, adding a quip that if fragile Waikanae people can fill trailers there would be no issue using the old State highway and the Otaihanga round-about.

Why did James Cootes change his vote?

The explanation for Cootes’ change of position is murky – seemingly Otaki does have a non-Council funded facility. As usual Cootes asks lots of questions but his reasons for why WR should close are far from clear.

At the end of the day there was a lack of transparency around reasons given for the imminent WR closure. The CE and others including the mayor repeated assertions that the WR was not efficient or effective. The CE even included a diminishing quip that it would be cheaper to hire limousines than keep the WR open and you can click here for premium limousine services chandler. Facts in support of this are thin. In considering the difference between ‘efficiency and effectiveness’ – a point of difference is that ‘effectiveness’ encompasses doing the right things.

The CE’s view of efficiency and effectiveness appears solely based on whether the council pays for something or not. It does not matter if there is great inefficiency in having to transport everything into and out of Otaihanga so long as Council does not pay.
The staff recommendation was apparently based on a survey of 87 people who used the facility.

Councillor Prvanov asked when the survey was done – this could not be answered in the workshop.

Cr Holborow stated that Raumati had the older demographic, not Waikanae, but councillor Compton challenged this and referred to recent statistics showing that Waikanae did.

Apparently 36% of those surveyed did not have kerbside recycling. The survey separated holiday home owners from permanent residents (even though they paid the same in rates) and Holborow said they could take their recycling back to Wellington and dispose of it there.

Council information in support of the (supposed) inefficiency had apparently stated that for residents in Reikorangi and at the end of Huia Street it was less distance to go to Otaihanga than to the Waikanae Rrecycling centre.

‘Factually incorrect’ KCDC statement

This was factually incorrect. Bold assertions undermined by minimal verifiable fact leave one with little confidence in the decision rammed through. Waikanae residents spoken to since the decision have been mostly unaware of the imminent closure of the WR facility.

It does does appear to be the case that the cost of transporting recycled materials from WR to Otaihanga has increased 5.4 times in three years.

To parrot the CE’s quoting of Mike Cardiff, ‘nothing stays the same’, when cost increases of this magnitude arise there should be a far more thorough investigation of the whole cycle efficiency regardless of whether council pays or not.

Within that whole view there are likely to be potential solutions that could reduce the $17 pa cost to keep the WR open.

As for my own ‘inefficiency’ I know it would cost me far more in fuel than $17 pa to go to Otaihanga (including increased safety risk) than it would to go the WR facility in Park Avenue.

Council should conduct a robust survey, at Council expense, to determine the views of the ratepayers of Waikanae.

NOTE: This report appeared first in Waikanae Watch, who have agreed that we could reproduce it.

AHHH…The value of holding fully public workshops holds no bounds. Thank you for publishing this Mr Editor, much appreciated Districtwide Cr Jackie Elliott (Portfolio Holder Sustainable Waste Minimisation)

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