Local government reform

### stuff.co.nz Last updated 09:24 19/03/2012
Local government reform to be announced
By Danya Levy
The Government is expected to announce details of its local government reforms today which aim to reduce rates increases and curb council debt. Prime Minister John Key said this morning the Government believed the 7 per cent average rates increase since 2003 was too much for the community to shoulder. “We accept there are lots of arguments around infrastructure deficit and the cost of bitumen but overall we want to see that number lower,” he told Newstalk ZB.
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### scoop.co.nz Monday, 19 March 2012, 10:50 am
Government must give ratepayers greater protection
Press Release: NoMoreRates.Com
[Statement from David Thornton]
Government must give ratepayers greater protection from free-spending councils. Ratepayers around the country are looking for some solid changes to local councils when the Government makes its promised announcements on local government reform later today. While controls on rates and debt are the main issues there is also the question of limiting those council activities which lead to high debt and ever-increasing rates. This could need inserting new clauses in the Local Government Act clearly defining the services and facilities which councils can and cannot be involved in.
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Ms Sage hasn’t quite got it right, see Dunedin City Council’s unmanaged debt.

### scoop.co.nz Monday, 19 March 2012, 12:00 pm
Local Govt Reforms Driven By Ideology, Not Good Governance
Press Release: Green Party
A manufactured crisis is being used as an excuse to drive ideological changes to local government, the Green Party says. “Central government proposals to cap rates, limit council spending, and force amalgamations would further undermine local democracy,” Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage said. “The key challenges local authorities face are a backlog of infrastructure investment where populations are growing and their reliance on rates as their major funding source.”
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### scoop.co.nz Monday, 19 March 2012, 10:50 am
Government must give ratepayers greater protection
Press Release: NoMoreRates.Com
[Statement from David Thornton]
Government must give ratepayers greater protection from free-spending councils. Ratepayers around the country are looking for some solid changes to local councils when the Government makes its promised announcements on local government reform later today. While controls on rates and debt are the main issues there is also the question of limiting those council activities which lead to high debt and ever-increasing rates. This could need inserting new clauses in the Local Government Act clearly defining the services and facilities which councils can and cannot be involved in.
Read more

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### radionz.co.nz Updated at 6:15 am today
News
Cabinet to consider local government reforms
The Cabinet is to consider a range of proposals aimed at controlling growing costs in the local government sector. Local Government Minister Nick Smith has said his main concern is council spending and the financial burden of rates on households and businesses.
Read more

Related Posts:
12.3.12 DCC debt
7.3.12 D Scene: Call for full inquiry into stadium project
27.2.12 Bringing DCC councillors, staff, related entities and individuals to account
21.2.12 Kaipara this time
3.2.12 Local government
17.1.12 DCC living beyond its means [all spending and debt not declared]
4.7.11 Local government finances
16.6.11 “Dunedin” – we introduce Transparency International UK

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

14 Comments

Filed under DCC, Economics, Geography, People, Politics

14 responses to “Local government reform

  1. Elizabeth

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1203/S00246/better-local-government-reforms-announced.htm

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    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/politics/202003/local-government-reforms-announced
    The first four points encompass refocusing the purpose of local government, introducing fiscal responsibility requirements, strengthening council governance provisions, and streamlining council reorganisation procedures. The initial four plans would be introduced to Parliament in May, and were expected to be passed in September.

    ODT Update 20.3.12: http://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/202084/plan-rein-soaring-council-costs

  2. Hype O'Thermia

    Manufactured crisis? Genuine crisis proudly manufactured in “It’s all rort here” Dunedin by elected and unelected DCC personnel plus tartan steakholders a.k.a. the usual faceless profit-takers.

  3. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Wed, 21 Mar 2012
    Govt proposes ‘profound’ change
    By David Loughrey
    Proposed Government changes to New Zealand’s councils have been described as “profound”, driven by ideology and set up to be rushed through before adequate discussion can take place. University of Otago political studies lecturer Associate Prof Janine Hayward questioned whether the reforms left room for councils to keep funding small community groups’ activities. But Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said “the devil is in the detail”, and he was not concerned about the reforms.
    Read more

    • Elizabeth

      Cabinet minister Nick Smith resigns
      Dr Smith was Local Government, Environment and Climate Change minister.
      http://www.odt.co.nz/news/politics/202277/under-fire-smith-front-media

      Ah well. Bad timing for local government. What of DCC’s fate now.

      ****

      ### scoop.co.nz Wednesday, 21 March 2012, 2:10 pm
      Smith Announces Resignation In Parliament
      Article: ParliamentToday.co.nz
      Nick Smith resigned all his portfolios as a minister when Parliament resumed today. Smith said in a personal statement to the House that he had acted incorrectly and made an error of judgement when he wrote a letter of reference about a friend in relation to their ACC case while he was the responsible minister. He told Parliament that he believed he had acted properly in other incidents concerning the friend. However he had not acknowledged his conflict of interest in one other letter concerning his friend and he should therefore resign. Smith said he did not intend resigning from Parliament and would serve out his term as an MP.
      Scoop Link

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      NZ Govt – Prime Minister accepts Minister’s resignation

      Tweet (Wed 21 Mar 14:55pm):
      @NZStuff Nick Smith’s personal statement to the House dlvr.it/1LLxJC

      • Elizabeth

        ### radionz.co.nz Updated at 12:38 pm today
        RNZ News
        Southern mayors reassured on local govt reforms
        Mayors in the South Island say they feel more comfortable with local government reforms after a meeting with the minister.
        Read more

  4. Elizabeth

    There are few ways ratepayers can rein in their local councils. -Eckhoff

    ### ODT Online Tue, 10 Apr 2012
    Opinion
    Local government plans ‘window-dressing’
    By Gerrard Eckhoff – Alexandra
    When an industry has assets of $100 billion, it is not unreasonable to expect a very regular review of how it goes about its business. Local government in New Zealand is such an industry. The recently announced review of local government will take place under the confidence and supply agreement the National Government signed immediately after the last election.

    Council debt has quadrupled over the past decade from $2 billion to $8 billion and rising. This is due to the singular and legal ability of all councils to put their hand into ratepayers’ pockets with impunity. There are few ways ratepayers can rein in their local councils.

    Read more

  5. Calvin Oaten

    That is an insightful article from Gerrard Eckhoff. It should be compulsory reading for all councillors, both DCC and ORC. Fat chance.

    • Elizabeth

      Gerrard’s thoughts on the stadium project, given as an ORC councillor he consistently voted against the project:

      “The Dunedin stadium is a case in point. Those with an alternative opinion were not engaged with in any meaningful way until the decision was effectively made. The use of “in committee” and Chatham House rules meant real discussion could not take place in public, due to supposed “commercial sensitivity”. That must change if the mission statements of councils, which often include the phrases “openness” and “transparency” are to be meaningful.”

  6. Peter

    Gerry is a straight shooter. We need more of his kind of character qualities on both councils. Not ‘the dumb and naive’, ‘the dumb but devious’, ‘the intelligent but naive’ or the ‘intelligent but devious’ varieties. (Hope I covered all bases!)

  7. Peter

    Personally, I wasn’t thinking of all the councillors on this scale. There are a small handful on both councils who are intelligent, attempt to think through the issues, are conscientious, and even if you, inevitably, don’t agree on every issue are at least willing to engage their brains and talk things through.
    It amazes me at times how some people, not just city councillors, have a low ‘crap detector’ when faced with people who are trying to pull a swifty over you. What equally amazes me is how most councillors so easily crumble when faced with the heavy handedness of people, like the key stadium/rugby promoters, who want to get their way. They allow themselves to be bullied. (Aside from those who seem to be willing accomplices.) All they need to do is to bite back harder. A quick mind and a sharp tongue go a long way.

  8. What if? DCC…

    “The reality is that, while we welcome development and the growth that it generates, existing ratepayers should not have to foot the bill for new costs created by developers.”
    –Queenstown Mayor Van Uden

    ### ODT Online Sat, 1 Feb 2014
    Government change would hurt ratepayers
    Mayor Vanessa Van Uden [says] the Local Government Amendment (No 3) Bill, introduced to Parliament, proposes to remove a long-standing source of revenue for councils which could result in “significant” rates increases in some parts of the district to offset loss of revenue. The council had assessed the impact of the proposed legislative changes could be an average rates increase of 5.7%. Under the Bill, councils would no longer be able to levy development contributions for community infrastructure, other than public toilets, playgrounds and community halls, the mayor said. Other forms of community infrastructure, such as libraries, parks and sporting facilities, will have to be funded from alternative sources, primarily rates.
    Read more

    Submissions The council would be supporting a submission from Local Government NZ against the changes, as well as making its own submission, and encouraged ratepayers to raise concern by submitting to the select committee themselves.

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