Penny’s Piece May 2016

Penny Gaylor Otaki's KCDC councillor
Penny Gaylor
Otaki’s KCDC councillor

With repair works underway on the Blue Bluff slip I wanted to give you an insight in to how Council has managed to fund this unexpected cost without drawing another dollar from ratepayers.

Sometimes I think it can be useful to drill down to the detail to show residents how we are cutting our cloth to fit our means.

 The Blue Bluff slip is enormous. It happened during a storm on 15 December, resulting in a substantial landslip on the bank of the Ōtaki River about 2km from the end of the Ōtaki Gorge Road.

 Previously slips had always been managed within the operating budget drawing on the money set aside for work need to recover and keep roads open after weather events.

 The size and scale of the December event took it beyond the means of these usual budgets.  On inspection it was found that it wasn’t just the substantial slip that was blocking the road, 300m high above in the remaining hillside significant cracks had developed, 150mm to 500mm wide.

These new developments found by engineers, and confirmed by a geologist consultant, raised concerns about the overall stability of the entire slope.

The road closure since December affected entrance to the DoC campsite and the main western entrance to the Tararua Forest Park.

So you can imagine that everyone’s expectation was that the repair bill for such a substantial clean-up would be in the millions, and at the risk of not being able to share the costs with any central government agency.

Hence the relief last month when costings came back for $500,000 and discussions between council staff and NZTA had been fruitful. The roading agency has agreed to pay half.

Work began in haste to avoid the winter months as much as possible.

At our Council meeting last week we had to decide how we would fund our half of the bill. 

Of Council’s half share, we could immediately find $53,000 from the remaining emergency works budget. 

The remaining $184,000 has been sourced through deferring works in the Access and Transport budgets: Operations Engineering Admin $30,000; Roading Projects $36,000; Scheme Assessment $40,000, Activity Management Plan $57,000; and Network Management $21,000.

That mix of sources also shows the mix of the kinds of work that goes on behind the scenes to build and maintain the Council owned roading network throughout our district.

This is a very good outcome for the Ōtaki community, and given that it enables the reopening of access to recreational areas in the Tarauas for camping and tramping, it is a great outcome for people from the region and beyond to return to the Ōtaki Gorge.  And that will support local businesses.