Homes before horses, please
A pensioner believes the Whangarei District Council should be spending more money on its pensioner flats than items like a horse racing track.
Sandy Stavert, 79, says the council should be spending more to maintain and upgrade the condition of its 165 pensioner flats instead of giving a $200,000 grant and potential $100,000 loan to the Whangarei Racing Club for a track upgrade.
But the council says any urgent repairs will be solved immediately and surveys show good tenant satisfaction with the pensioner flats.
Mr Stavert has lived in a pensioner unit on Kamo Rd since 2005, when he lost his savings in the collapse of finance companies.
He previously worked in building and construction, and says the flats are in need of some attention.
"It's very cold and when I got into it there was mould on the walls. A lot of the pensioner flats are like that."
Mr Stavert says his unit has a leaking roof, shown by stains on the ceiling, and the cupboard shelves are broken and wobbly.
He has discussed the problems with the Northland District Masonic Trust, which manages the pensioner units.
But years later he is still waiting for a reroof and he says the only improvement has been reinsultation.
He pays $179.30 a fortnight for his unit and calculates the council makes about $770,000 a year from the flats.
"Where is that money going," he asks.
"As far as I know, most of the flats are in need of something - most of them new roofs."
But despite all his complaints, he believes others are worse off than him and he is living in one of the best lot of units.
Council property manager Mike Hibbert says the council spends $334,000 each year on maintenance alone on the pensioner units.
A further $339,000 was budgeted in the long term plan for capital upgrades this financial year but $300,000 has been postponed along with $26 million of postponed work.
Mr Hibbert says this means the work such as kitchen and bathroom upgrades will be reprioritised and non-urgent work will be delayed.
But he says any urgent issues such as a leaking roof should be referred to the Masonic Trust in the first instance.
"Repairs are prioritised and urgent problems will be solved or under repair within 48 hours," he says.
Mr Hibbert says he is not aware of any roofing problems at the Kamo Rd units.
Unit inspections and condition surveys are done each year with the last inspections in March 2012.
"I have looked at the last tenant survey, there is a very high satisfaction rate for this location and no specific comments relating to roof or leaky conditions recorded," he says.
But pensioner Mary Le Myre also agrees the council should be spending more on its pensioner flats rather than on grandiose schemes.
She is depressed by the decades-old wallpaper which is peeling in her unit on Maunu Rd.
The Whangarei Leader ran a story about Mary's plight in May last year. She says she has still not had the redecoration she desires.