Kapiti Coast District Councillor James Cootes is keen to talk to ratepayers who have concerns about the council’s proposed investment funds.
KCDC is looking to establish up to $30 million investment funds that will likely be initially funded by borrowings from the Local Government Funding Agency (LGFA).
Concerns have been raised about whether the community has been properly consulted about the proposed Resilience ($10 million) and Growth (between $10-$20 million) funds and whether borrowing to invest in the financial markets is a prudent strategy.
Cr Cootes, Ward Councillor for Otaki, says that that councillors received a 4-hour briefing from Tauranga-based investment advisors My Fiduciary in August last year that helped allay some concerns about the potential risks.
He says he’s asked some tough questions about what’s being proposed but only has to look at the performance of the current Pre-funding Fund – used to fund major capital projects - as an example of how the proposed funds could perform.
“Yes, we have had some losses but if you look at the performance of that whole account, over the time that we’ve been running it, the gains that we’ve made have far outweighed the losses,” he says. “And we’ve saved rate payers a hell of a lot of money, through pre-funding through the LGFA.”
The LGFA is a service that most local authorities in New Zealand belong to and can provide funding to councils at considerably lower rates than commercial banks.
He says the recent concerns aired has helped raised awareness about the funds and is enabling people to properly engage on the matter.
“No-one in our (Otaki) community has raised this with us, now you could say that’s because they’re still simply don’t know about it,” he says.
“It may sound like I’m absolutely for this, I have asked some tough questions and I’m still, as a good elected member, open-minded,” says Cr Cootes.
“I encourage the community to contact me … I’ll meet with you, talk through things, as your elected member (for Otaki) we need to hear, so that we can make an informed decision.”
Cr Cootes that were a number of submissions in the Long-Term Plan process that recommended Council needs to need to look at other ways to fund Council activities rather than continuing to increase rate.
He says the investment funds is one response.
“It does actually speak to those submissions that have said that we need to find another source of income to deal to these issues rather than just continually increasing rates,” he says.
“So it’s if it’s not this, then what?”
Interview was conducted by John Hayes on Morning Magazine show. Click here for the full audio of the interview and other interviews, background papers and stories.
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