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Reading:               1422 pages

Hours in meetings: 12 hours

A lot of reading this week as the final draft of the Long-Term Plan was given to us to check before it goes on the website for feedback from the community. That document is 1158 pages long.

On Tuesday I was in Whakatane for the Monitoring and Operations Committee. As always, some fascinating presentations. The NZ Landcare Trust supports our volunteers whose members maintain a number of catchments. We also heard from the Coast Care programme. Ratepayers get huge value from these volunteers who work to keep our environment pristine.

The committee heard about some of the pests in the region form Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital and the threats they pose for biodiversity and then coastal scientist Jim Dahm explained some of the changes and cycles in and around the Maketu Estuary.

Professor Chris Battershill reported to the Committee as the Council funds the Chair in Coastal Science at the University of Waikato. Councillors were disturbed to hear the University is considering moving undergraduate study back to Hamilton. We will be taking that up with the University. It goes against the spirt of the agreement when funding was originally provided by the Regional Council and by TECT to establish a campus in Tauranga . I was a trustee on TECT at the time and it was a clear part of the business case to attract significant numbers of school leavers to study in Tauranga.

After the meeting we took the opportunity to have a look at the new boat build at Extreme Boats. This boat will service the Eastern Bay of Plenty doing everything from clearing waterways to setting out buoys. Very impressive design.

Wednesday was “Risk and Assurance Day”, although the first meeting of the day was to adopt the draft Long-term Plan for consultation. The overall rate increase proposed is a disappointing 13% although the documents quote “real 4%” which I think is a bit of misdirection but is required, apparently, by legislation.

Of course, the 13% is an average and takes into account growth as well as inflation. Do go online and make your submissions especially about the three key questions around how we set targeted rates, whether we should be able to sell some Port shares and whether we should investigate more regional parks. The link is shown below.