Napier’s clown mayor strikes again

Long-term friend of the blog JJ Harrison writes:

Napier residents are rapidly heading for the largest financial disaster in its long history of ?investing? in failed commercial gambles at the expense of our core services and our health and safety.

I refer to the $60 million (all figures include GST) aquarium-extension project and the fact that the council, in their infinite wisdom, have rejected their own consultant’s visitor projection numbers to justify the proposal.

In a 45-page report to council, Visitor Solutions confirmed that the current $13 million facility attracts 144,000 visitors per annum.

By spending a further $60 million, or an increase of 462% on the original cost, the visitor numbers would increase by a paltry 30,000?40,000 per annum or by 21?28% !? ?

Any five-year-old, year-one primary-school student knows that on this basis the project could bankrupt the city.

The current facility has cost ratepayers the thick end of $500,000 per annum in losses since it opened, due to deferred maintenance, depreciation and losses due to lack of patronage and incompetent management.

Readers will recall that, based on these heroic projections, our hapless council approved the sum of $1.2 million to prepare a report on this commercial gamble.

This included a trip to California for both the mayor and CEO to ?investigate? aquariums in the largest and richest state of the union.

The Visitor Solutions report constituted part of this study but it has since been rejected by our council as far too conservative!

Well, they would know based on their appalling, costly and failed commercial gambles of the past, the worst being the ongoing MTG Hawke’s Bay debacle.

When fundraising the mayor provided projections of paid annual visitors of circa 800,000 per annum.?After eight costly years of huge losses the actual number amounted to only 4% of his original projections.

Not forgotten is the dud art deco bus fiasco.

Here,?due to highly optimistic visitor numbers, the Napier City Council lost circa $2 million over 18 months in costs and losses for two buses.

They were eventually sold for a mere $50,000, less 20% commission paid to Turners Auctions.

Let us not forget the recent velodrome disaster that cost the ratepayers over $750,000 on two reports for a project that the mayor assured us Sports New Zealand had promised to fund based on council visitor projections.

The problem was that they had never promised any such thing and, as a result, the thousands of hours spent by council officers on this project were wasted, in addition to the $750, 000.

Little wonder that the Napier City Council are regarded as the butt of all jokes regarding their determination to fund failed commercial projects at the expense of core council responsibilities.

As a result of these losses in failed commercial gambles, our water and sewage infrastructure is now at third-world level.

Raw sewage is regularly pumped into the estuary and responsibility for our once-pristine water supply was taken away from council by central government in July 2017 due to lack of maintenance and allowing E coli into the system.

If the council had spent just 10% of the money wasted on failed commercial gambles, and a similar percentage of officers’ time, in caring for our decrepit infrastructure then we would be the envy of other local bodies ? not the butt of their jokes.

It is time for this council to disabuse themselves of their skills in managing the city’s money ? they have risked residents’ money on commercial gambles that have collapsed in the past and will cost us dearly in the future.

It is not the job of the council to wantonly waste huge sums of our money on frivolous vanity projects at the expense of our health and safety and core services.

The real disaster for Napier ratepayers is that our elected councillors, who promised us that they would question such ludicrous expenditure, appear to have suddenly gone mute when we need their insightful questioning the most.

Word from Napier is that the mayor reckons he has government funding for his aquarium. This is news to the government who, apparently, don’t know anything about it, and was especially news to NZ First who are backing an alternative aquarium in Tauranga. Napier City Councillors should fact check everything the mayor says as obviously he cocked up the velodrome badly, as well as the MTG and the art deco buses.