Out Of Money

28 Oct

Events Committee meeting on 30 October.  The majority of the meeting ends up in public excluded but one thing is evident.  They have run out of money if they want to continue on with business as usual.


Burt Munro ($30K), Buskers ($25K), and Kidzone ($5k) still to get their yearly ‘contribution’.  Not enough left in the kitty sorry guys.  Who will get the chop?

Debt Ridden

22 Oct

It has been pointed out to me that there is an extraordinary meeting today at ICC.

debt riddenOur already over-extended, debt-ridden ICHL have a Major Transaction Approval request.  Let’s hope it isn’t going to cost us anything.

Tuesday’s public excluded session is also a worry

fearEither one of those should instill fear into us all.  I expect to see an agenda change for Tuesday’s meeting though as they will want to ratify (rubberstamp) the extraordinary meeting decisions before anything leaks out.  I am such a cynic.

It has been along time since I read a council agenda but it is nice to see an improvement…declaring ‘urgent items’ at the start of the meeting.  A resolution endorsing them (along with reasons) would be better of course!


Bus Related Sorry

17 Sep

For those more interested in council stuff, sorry.  This is the response I received from my ‘complaint’ to Bluff School regarding the across the board decision to deny everyone permission to utilise the MOE buses to attended Year 7 and/or 8 in Invercargill.  I will reserve comment, for now, as I am currently so pissed (off) that I may speak out of turn.

Below is what I sent to them.  Sorry about the typos and grammatical errors.  I accidentally sent the wrong one (draft not final…duh me)

Bluff School Board of Trustees

Many parents, and wider community, will appreciate the situation schools have been placed in by the MOE.  While we may not support the  changes the MOE have made, without consultation, in relation to ‘ineligible students’, we can still make the necessary choices for our  children.
For many years Bluff parents have been making those choices.  The financial aspects of Year 7 and 8 children attending school in Invercargill  are significant for many already struggling families.  As parents we weigh up the increased costs on the family against the benefits the  student receives.  The cost of uniforms ($300+) and bus travel ($400 p.a) are deemed workable for many families given the increased  opportunities their children receive.  This situation has not cast a negative light on the education Bluff School provides nor has it shown to  have a detrimental effect on Bluff School.    The Board of Bluff School have taken away our ability to make the decision.  The Parent  Representatives will be well aware that most (if not all) parents cannot financially and/or logistically drive their children to school in  Invercargill and collect them five days a week.  Some more affluent parents may be able to weigh up the time and money and agree to drive  their child.  Bluff School’s decision has penalised the less affluent and limited their choices.
The financial implications are based solely on Bluff School’s ‘across the board’ decision to say NO to all requests to use the Ministry buses.

I do not agree that a Bluff school can provide the necessary opportunities for our Year 7 and 8 children.  The decision to go to Invercargill for the intermediate years is based on so much more than education or resources.  Given most Invercargill primary schools only go up to Year 6,  the Invercargill children are gaining acceptance to the high school of their choice well before Bluff children.  The Year 7 and 8 children  attending in Invercargill are forming relationships that can last throughout high school.  It will be harder for Year 9 Bluff children to be  included in social groups when all other members have already spent two years together.  Those able to attend during Year 7 and 8 will   miss out as the bus trip to Invercargill is a social environment as well.  Our kids will miss out if driven to Invercargill by parents. The general  comraderie of being with their peers cannot be ignored.

The aspects I have outlined could be expressed by any Bluff parent.  When you consider this is being imposed on me as a parent who does  not have a child attending Bluff School, it is an affront to me as a parent.  Morally it is wrong to deny people their right to choose and  possibly illegal to allow choices to only those who can afford it.  Your decision (not the Ministry of Education’s) has taken away my right to  choose.  

I have two children attending St Teresa’s School (Bluff) and I can assure you that Bluff School is not an ‘affected school’.  I intend to send my  children at Year 7 to Invercargill.  I may not choose to send them to Verdon but your decision means I must, or stay in Bluff.  I cannot afford  to drive them.   I will not send my children to Bluff School to ‘serve out their sentence’.  The Ministry may have catergorised you as ‘affected’  but in reality you are not.  I have no ability to vote for the Bluff School trustees.  I do not attend but your organisation believes you can make  this decision.  I suggest the Board reconsider its decision making process as the impact of this decision is having negative effects on Bluff  School, Bluff children, and Bluff.

I seek, from the Board, the reason this decision was made and ultimately, a withdrawal of the decision to deny all requests for ‘permission’.   One would expect the Boardwill assess all requests for ‘permission’ on a ‘case by case’ basis.  I believe it is important that Bluff School outlines to parents that are declined an explanation of how the school is affected by that child leaving.  

I look forward to your response.

Busy Girl But Back ‘On Board’ Soon (I Hope)

9 Sep

I have been on Facebook and Google a lot with the school bus issue that Bluff School is imposing on our lovely little town.  In the course of doing that I am slowing reigniting my love of legislation.  For me the battle is between the love of legislation and the absolute stupidity of those who attest to adhere to it.  There are times when I have to ‘push down’ those thoughts and move on, primarily so I can get on with sh*t.  I hasn’t worked.  Seems my switch can not be turned off.

The migrant issue flicks my switch too…argh!

I digress.  I have been trolling around the Office of the Ombudsman’s website and came across some interesting guides that may be helpful in the future or just to ‘feed the brain’.

An informative paper about local authorities, event funding and LGOIMA.

Sadly it provides information which councils will use to work around things but maybe it can be used to someone’s advantage also.

Another is the Chief Executive Expenses guide.

While I claim to love legislation, that is just the tool, my real love is the ‘backstory’.  The reason why the legislation came to be and what it is intended to achieve.  The ombudsman gives a good rundown.

There are significant benefits to be gained from having very high levels of transparency around expense information. State sector employees aware that information about their official expenses will be publicly disclosed will be more inclined to demonstrate financial probity.
Public trust and confidence in government stewardship of public money will grow in turn.
If that is not the defining reason for supporting transparency, I don’t know what is.

Charity Gig For Nepal

12 Aug

St Teresa’s School, Bluff, presents a charity gig for Nepal, happening on 25th October 2015 from 12 noon at Bluff Arena (the new Bluff Oyster festival site)

Featuring tons of great bands and other entertainment. More info on https://www.facebook.com/groups/1663561413875441/

Bar facilities by Invercargill Brewery. Food carts and great coffee… and … a special secret guest to be announced soon….

Tickets available on Trade Me have NO BOOKING FEES, no limits on quantity and a flat shipping rate.

181780 Nepal Benefit Concert Poster jpeg

Print it out and share it around everyone.

This event is being run by St Teresa’s Bluff and funds will go to Caritas to support the needy in Nepal.

Ministry Response To My Bus Related Queries

7 Aug

I asked the following of the Ministry of Education regarding the bus rules

Recently this article http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/69740900/Primary-schools-take-a-stand-to-retain-kids was highlighted to me.  I am wanting more information.

 Who makes the decision/signs permission….principal, teacher, or board?

 Is there a ‘form’? If yes, I would like a copy.

 Could I have a copy of the policy/rules/criteria?  And when was it first brought in and how? gazetted?

 According to the article it has existed for a while….what has prompted the need to enforce the policy?

They responded with the following

Thank you for your email about Ministry of Education funded school transport assistance (STA).


Caregivers are free to choose the school their children attend but that choice may affect a child’s eligibility for STA. To be eligible for Ministry funded STA, students must meet the Ministry’s STA eligibility criteria (I attach Factsheet 1, for your information) and STA is designed to meet the travelling needs of eligible students.  However, where a student is deemed ineligible for Ministry STA, (for example, because they are not attending their nearest appropriate school), the bus provider may permit the student to use the bus as a fare paying passenger by meeting certain conditions.  These conditions, and subject to vehicle capacity, are that the bus operator must first obtain written permission of all schools affected by the bus route.  Additionally, no eligible students are to be disadvantaged either by not being able to have a seat or having their journey unduly delayed.


The rules around the transport of ineligible students are set in the Ministry’s bus operator contract. You can also see them in Factsheet 3 attached. The Ministry provides funded assistance to eligible students only, and the decision to carry ineligible students is made by the bus operator. The Ministry allows that in its bus operator contract, provided that the operator ensures the ineligible students meet the conditions of travel for ineligible students as set out in the contract clauses.


Of the conditions related to your query, the requirement to pay a fare and to get permission from the schools serviced by the route has been in the bus operator contract since 1 January 2009, when the current school bus contracts commenced. The wording relating to permission from schools was updated from ‘schools serviced’ by the route (ie; schools with eligible students travelling on the bus service) to ‘schools affected’ by the route (ie; all schools with a Transport Entitlement Zone the bus route travels through) with the national contract extension variations from 1 January 2015.


Our bus operators were asked to update their ineligible student passengers and schools about the requirements for the transport of ineligible students. Meeting the conditions of transport of ineligible students is a contractual requirement and should have been enforced since the start of 2009.  The policy about eligibility has been in place for decades.


We don’t specify that it needs to be the Board of Trustees or the Principal of the school who signs off permission, but it must be someone who has the authority to act on behalf of the school. There is no form to complete but the permission must be in writing.


The Ministry is considering the rules around the transport of ineligible students on Ministry school buses. However, this will take time as it needs to be considered in a wider context as any change to the rules would apply to all students nationally.




Nicola Howie | Team Leader | School Transport

Long Time No See

12 Jul

Yes, it has been a very, very long time.  I thought I would rear my head for a moment because of an issue that many find interesting (when they hear about it).  Generally no one gives a shite until it affects them, I have found that most people don’t even know this affects them – at all!

I am referring to the money taken out of our community each year; predominately by elected members.  Mrs Mitchell (ow – that hurt my tongue) has reported it in the Bluff Beacon but a lot of people don’t read the Beacon.

Here it is from the Beacon:


The Local Government Act comes into the community board rate and I don’t have the time to get into that one right now but the Bluff Town Hall Rate needs comment I feel.

The back story is that ICC sold it to ‘Bluff’ for a dollar and the Bluff Community Charitable Trust took ownership as the legal entity that ‘owns’ it on our behalf.  The community board has three members on the Trust (the chair has to be a board member and has casting vote if a vote is tied).   Within no time the community trust (through the board at a board meeting) created the Bluff Town Hall Rate (2005/06 I think) and the Statement of Proposal claimed it would not need to go up in the next ten years.  It was $5.00 + GST.  It kept climbing to more than $8 and now we have it jumping up to $15.07 per property.

Going back three years we have the following expenses for the Bluff Town Hall







It needs to be said that the 2014 finances show a $8,868 deficit BUT it should also be noted that the ICC rate levy (Bluff Town Hall rate) is not shown so the real deficit is only around $800.  One would hope they will be correcting this ‘error’.

I am at a loss to see where the $19K of operating costs are.  I am also at a loss to see where the $7K of maintenance every year is given PD are seen doing work there regularly.

Long story short …..what efforts are being made to reduce the costs on the Bluff ratepayers?  This equates to $19K out of the Bluff economy.  I would like to see funding applications for solar power in the long term but for now – why are we paying full rates for what is supposed to be a community centre?  Is this so they can make the improvements on the toilets etc?  If that is the case…that is NOT ‘operating costs’.  Making the town hall suit the needs of the changing community (and compliant for disabled users) easily suits the criteria for lotteries funding.

I have things to get on with right now but this is a big fail due to what seems to be laziness.  The Trustees need to do better and involve the community more rather than tapping them for more money without increased benefits to the residents.


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