We don’t all think alike as a community, so it’s no surprise that councillors elected by
the community don’t all think alike either!

In my five years on Tauranga City Council, and my observation from the outside, there are two ideologies: The fiscal conservatives and the fiscal liberals. The people around the table may change over time but the conflict between the two ideologies endures.

The most recent example of this divide occurred when setting the draft rates for this year. We reduced the proposed average-residential increase to 3.9 per cent but only got there by one vote - the Mayor’s casting vote otherwise it would have been 5.9 per cent.

I’ve always believed in fiscal conservativism by keeping residential rates as close as possible to inflation but there is another view that councillors of my opinion are “holding the city back by keeping rates low.” I believe, that isn’t supported by evidence.

Tauranga has the second highest rates of any NZ city so you could argue the fiscal liberals have won more battles than they’ve lost.

This year though, I predict we’ll fall to third highest as Wellington’s Labour-led council overtakes us.

In fairness, the proposed 5.9 per cent included a “debt enablement levy” to help council finance future projects. Even that wasn’t enough. A change in projects and/or a change in how councils are funded is needed.

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris