Head of Medi Max to stand for mayor
Richmond businessman Maxwell Clark is aiming for the district council mayoralty with ambitions of creating a more open and financially accountable council.
He joins district councillor Kit Maling as the only two so far to announce plans to stand for mayor of Tasman.
Mr Clark is managing director of first aid provider Medi Max, and stood unsuccessfully for election to council in the Richmond ward in 2010. He was compelled to try for the mayoralty through disgruntlement at the way aspects of council were handled. He had been approached by members of the community who had asked him to stand, he said.
"I've had a lot of dealings with council over the last year, very much tied in with the submission process by the Richmond group objecting to rates increases," Mr Clark said.
He was among the group of lower Queen St property owners concerned last year about proposed huge leaps in their rates following a zone change, which the council finally agreed to revisit.
Mr Clark was also concerned about the way the Lee Valley Dam project was being handled, particularly the consultation process which he believed was being conducted without sufficient information.
He said the project should not go ahead until an agreed funding model was in place. Mr Clark agreed that water and its supply was a critical part of community wellbeing, but how to fund it was equally critical.
He welcomed local government reform which among other things recognised a mayor's limited formal powers over the governing body of council. The changes mean that from this year's election mayors will be empowered with greater authority over decisions.
Mr Clark believed he had strong leadership skills, and like Mr Maling he believed that debt servicing was Tasman's most pressing issue.
The TDC currently has debt of more than $150 million and it is projected to rise to $300 million in the current 10-year plan.
Mr Clark said projects needed to be considered on an individual basis to see where savings could be made. He did not believe enough cost analysis was done and that council "had a history of just going ahead and doing something".
He agreed there was a legal requirement to consult on many capital expenditure projects, but there was no legal requirement to conform with a decision after consultation.
He believed postponing capital expenditure would ease the level of rates increases in Tasman, and he did not support the high proportion of loan-funding of some projects.
"I want to look at where reserve funds have got to," he said.
Mr Clark, whose professional background is in the healthcare industry, said if he was elected mayor he would step aside from his role with Medi Max. The first aid provider is a recipient of charitable funds raised by the Red Devils Motorcycle Club Poker Run - a motorcycling event where participants visit pubs and cafes and collect a playing card at each stop. Prizes are awarded for the best poker hand at the end of the day. They are held internationally with motorcycle gangs saying they are fundraising events.
Mr Clark said the funds were donated in a legal and proper way and were no different to any other charitable donation, but if elected he would step aside from his role as director of the company that runs Medi Max.
Mr Clark said at this stage his election campaign would be self-funded.
Mr Maling will campaign on several key issues he believed the council needed to address including current and projected debt, and rates affordability. He said the council needed to focus on core services, get its debt under control and focus on delivering the right things to make the community a good and prosperous place to live, and a place where people could afford to live in their own home well after their retirement.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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