Received from Rob Hamlin
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 at 10:56 a.m.
Another gem from the ODT today on the Mosgiel Pool repeating the ‘community is willing to pay $7.5 million’ mantra:
Community urged to push for Mosgiel pool – http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/335835/community-urged-push-mosgiel-pool
I posted the following comment:
“The issue of funding is significant … although the community is willing to put in $7.5 million, or 50%, it certainly doesn’t mean it is close to being a done deal…”
As I have said previously there is no reliable public evidence that this ‘community’ is prepared to put in this money. The Pool Trust’s previously secret, but publicly funded, research report relies upon a small group of wealthy people to contribute nearly all of this money, with less than 100 individuals contributing the lion’s share, and one unnamed individual expected to donate $1.5 million.
In fact, the wider ‘community’ cum catchment in question has yet to be properly defined, which is a necessary precursor to reliable research based upon systematic sampling to gauge their opinions and specific intention to donate to and use this facility. Until this is done, any statement that the “community is willing to donate $7.5 million” is conjecture.
I have noted this lack of support on numerous occasions, and I am very concerned that the Otago Daily Times continues to repeatedly print this very specific sounding but currently unsupported assertion unqualified and unchallenged – pretty much as a statement of fact.
There is a well-known adage that if you repeat something often enough and loudly enough then it will become the truth, regardless of its actual veracity. This is unfortunately an observable phenomenon as far as public perception is concerned, but reality can only be repelled for so long before it rudely intrudes upon such pleasant reveries.
The assertion that this undefined ‘community’ is prepared to pay $7.5 million for a pool facility, when reinforced by the Otago Daily Times’ repeated publication of it, may lead to a ‘deal being done’ on the basis of a misconception created in the minds of our councillors and the community – whoever that community may actually be.
Reality, if it is different from the assertion, may only intrude after such a deal is done – which would be unfortunate if the Council gets itself and its ratepayers hooked on some commitment to pay into this proposal before this reality-intrusion occurs.
This damage would only be increased by any commitment by the Council to underwrite ‘the Community’s’ own fundraising for $7.5 million without further research to establish the community’s (either the wider Mosgiel or narrower rich groups’ intentions to donate this amount).
Underwriting fundraising is actually impossible, as the very act of underwriting a specific fundraising figure means that those funds have then been raised, and everybody involved in such fundraising, both donors and fundraisers, can put their feet up and wait for the underwriter to cough up the full underwritten amount. Councils have been caught this way before.
I am too much of a realist to believe that any further research on the extent of the Mosgiel community’s FISCAL support for this project will be done before a ‘deal is done’. Recent statements by the Mayor to the effect that something is going to happen in the next five years are inconsistent with the Mosgiel Pool remaining as an unfunded item in the long-term (10 year) plan, and that suggests that a funding ‘deal’ of some sort is imminent.
Given that a deal may well be happening quite soon, and that further research seems unlikely, the Council can actually control the risks to the ratepayers of any such deal, by insisting on certain specific conditions as part of it. Here they are:
1) The Council will make no commitment to fund construction until a design for the pool is finalised, reliable estimates for construction are in place, and (ABOVE ALL) a site for the pool has been agreed upon, secured, all necessary zonings are in place and consents have been issued.
2) The Council will not commit funds unless the total identified and unfunded costs of the project at the point of commitment are $15 million or less.
3) Absolutely no variations to the agreed pool plan/site will be allowed once funds are committed.
4) The Council will agree to pay in $7.5 million subject to the above conditions, but absolutely no money will be paid, and no legally binding commitment of the above nature will be made by the Council until the Pool Trust can deliver legally binding third-party funding commitments of the correct specification that total more than $7.5 million.
5) The Pool Trust must acquire legally binding commitments (pledges) to pay, subject to the proviso that these commitments (pledges) only become binding once:
a) The total raised by the Pool Trust exceeds $7.5 million on or before a date that is common to all such commitments (pledges).
b) Conditions 1-3 above are met by the Pool Trust and the Council commits to pay its $7.5 million on a (later) date that is common to all pledges.
So how will this work? Well let’s say that the Pool Trust’s pledge contracts name a date of 31 December 2016. If the Pool Trust’s pledged sum at 4.55pm on that day stands at $7,499,995, then at the stroke of 5.00pm, the private pledges and Council commitment all become void, and the deals with both donors and Council have to be renegotiated – Hard, but fair.
However, if at 4.59pm Mrs Buggins pledges an additional ten bucks, then the sum at the stroke of 5.00pm will stand at $7,500,005. Mrs Buggins, all the other pledgers and the Council are at that moment committed, subject to the Pool Trust meeting conditions 1-3 defined by Council by the second date (say 31 December 2017).
If conditions 1-3 have not already been met and acknowledged by the Council then everybody is fully committed at this point, and the fully funded proposal can then proceed. If conditions 1-3 are not met at this point, and the project subsequently relocates, falls over or blows out in some other way, then once again all potential donors are off the hook if the Council does not finally commit before 5.00pm on 31 December 2017.
I consider these conditions to be reasonable, and for the Council not to insist upon them as a requirement for funding, with or without further research, would in my opinion be an act of recklessness.
These conditions should also be perfectly acceptable for the Pool Trust. If they are truly confident that the ‘Mosgiel Community’ will give them $7.5 million, and they can build this facility where they say they are going to for $15 million, then they should be equally confident of meeting these Council funding conditions without difficulty, and of then proceeding with the construction of this facility as planned.
Related Posts and Comments:
● 6.3.15 Propaganda from trust for Taieri pool project #Mosgiel
● 2.3.15 DCC: Mosgiel Pool private workshop Tuesday (tomorrow) [renders]
● 20.2.15 Taieri Aquatic Centre: 2nd try for SECRET meeting —hosted by Mayor
● 13.2.15 ‘Taieri Aquatic Centre’, email from M. Stedman via B. Feather
● 10.2.15 Dunedin City Councillors invited to Secret Meeting #Mosgiel
11.10.14 New Mosgiel Pool trust declared —(ready to r**t)
23.7.14 Mosgiel Pool: Taieri Times, ODT…. mmm #mates
16.7.14 Stadium: Exploiting CST model for new Mosgiel Pool #GOBs
● 4.2.14 DCC: Mosgiel Pool, closed-door parallels with stadium project…
30.1.14 DCC broke → More PPPs to line private pockets and stuff ratepayers
20.1.14 DCC Draft Annual Plan 2014/15 [see this comment & ff]
16.11.13 Community board (Mosgiel-Taieri) clandestine meetings
25.1.12 Waipori Fund – inane thinkings from a councillor
19.5.10 DScene – Public libraries, Hillside Workshops, stadium, pools
12.4.10 High-performance training pool at stadium?
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr
*Image: cicc.tv – Michael Stedman, chair of the Taieri Community Facilities Trust (“the Mosgiel pool trust”), tweaked by whatifdunedin