When we restarted this blog we said that we’d let candidates or readers submit a guest post or two. We hope that in doing so it will see more issues put out there and see our readers debate with or ask more questions of the authors. You can submit pieces here.
Kicking the off the first WCC Watch Soapbox is Onslow-Western Ward candidate Hayley Robinson. Feel free to leave questions for her in the comments.
If I were a Councillor today; the Annual Plan
As most people will be well aware, the Wellington City Council Draft Annual Plan is in its final stages. In order to help Wellingtonians (including those eligible to vote for me) understand more about how I think, I would like to let you know just some of the changes I would have made if it were all up to me (note: in real life, you’d have to use logic and reason to convince other Councillors to vote with you).
I thoroughly approve of the concept of a Living Wage for Council staff, having seen first-hand what happens to children and families when the adults don’t get paid enough to live on. So I would have voted yes to the extra $250K spend on this. However, the word ‘budget’ in my book means a dollar amount that you set, bearing in mind your income and most urgent/essential needs and wants. You then make a reasonable attempt to STICK to that budget. Unless more income appears, or you win Lotto, or you have a brilliant idea for making extra money, you have to take something out of the proposed budget if you put something in. It’s fairly basic. You prioritise.
Not greening Taranaki Street this year would save about $150K, which leaves $100K to find. Let’s take that $100K off the cost of improving the playground and surrounding area on the Waterfront. I will not be sad (and neither, I suspect, will a lot of Wellington’s children who like interesting equipment, but don’t need enormously expensive playgrounds).
Next, I’ll have $200k to put into retaining Library staff, and I’ll save more money by not purchasing an unspecified number of extra auto-issuing machines (the kind that can’t process our financial transactions). We’ll remove that from the $1million playground area also.
There are a lot more alterations I would make, but I’m getting very tempted to ramble. Let me just specify that, for any given issue, it is a Councillor’s job to listen, read reports, hunt out extra facts or follow up on issues that the reports raise, listen to submissions, factor in how efficient a particular spend is (both in economic and social-good terms) and think thrifty before making any decision. Let’s have the best bang for our buck.
P.S. Councillor’s pay – looks like a full-time salary to me.