Tag Archives: Core services

Local government change: council rates, core services, efficiencies

The Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council in May confirmed they were considering the potential benefits of merging.

### ODT Online Wed, 25 Jul 2012
Editorial: The role of local government
Local and central government are set to go head to head when the issue of what councils would like and what they can afford to provide for their communities is debated as part of the Better Local Government law changes before Parliament. Prime Minister John Key has called for local authorities to cut spending to keep rates affordable and has said the Government would like to see more council mergers. Speaking at the Local Government New Zealand conference in Queenstown last week, Mr Key told delegates the job would not be an easy one. They faced high expectations – but “we all have to face up to making difficult choices”. That is correct, of course. Businesses and households make difficult choices every day. And decision-makers must realise increases in public spending often put pressure on those who can least afford it. There is no doubt council spending on big-budget projects, viewed by many as “non-core” council business, fuels frustration in communities.

One thing is certain: if local authorities are against changes to their structure, and communities remain as divided about such matters as whether ocean-side drives should be for pedestrians or vehicles (or even dog sleds and skiers), the regional debate about those issues – let alone rates, priorities and costs – will surely drown out the current discussions in Parliament.

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Dunedin City Council is over extended… the result of ten years of imprudent debt funding (core business and pet projects), and a lack of overall conservative management on behalf of residents and ratepayers. Cr Syd Brown claims the council’s debt – excluding its companies – stands at $217 million, following the transfer of stadium debt to Dunedin Venues Ltd. This is how your elected representatives and council staff operate, entirely through obfuscation and fudging of true debt levels and annual spending by the city council and its entities.

### ODT Online Wed, 25 Jul 2012
Costs will rise: mayor
By Chris Morris
Ratepayers across New Zealand – including those in Dunedin – could be left to foot the bill as local government reforms drive up the cost of borrowing for councils, it has been claimed. The warning came as Dunedin city councillors prepared to complete their response to the Better Local Government reforms at a Dunedin City Council finance, strategy and development committee meeting today. The reforms – unveiled in March – included plans to introduce new benchmarks to assess the financial performance of councils, as part of a push to control local government debt levels and limit rates increases. However, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the reforms “run the risk of doing exactly the opposite” by forcing up the council’s debt-servicing costs by $1 million a year.

Local Government Minister David Carter rejected the claims last night, saying “the exact opposite” could happen if new rules inspired greater confidence in council financial decision-making.

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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Confronting stadium costs: no public mandate for project

Local Government New Zealand bureaucrats have spaghetti for brains, it’s not pretty…

### ODT Online Thu, 18 Mar 2010
Core costs push rates take to $1b
By Chris Morris
The cost of rebuilding New Zealand’s core infrastructure – rather than shiny new stadiums or glory projects – is to blame for the country’s first $1 billion rates bill, Local Government New Zealand says. Figures released yesterday by Statistics New Zealand showed the quarterly rates take for the country’s local authorities, including the Dunedin City Council, had topped $1 billion for the first time.
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Post by Elizabeth Kerr

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NSC ruckus: Mr Hide and council core services

### Mayoral News Release 12 June 2009
News and opinion from North Shore City’s Mayor Andrew Williams
By Andrew Williams

Hide shoots himself in the foot over council ‘core services’, says North Shore Mayor

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has shot himself in the foot, with his own gun, over his latest plan to smash local government and limit it to providing basic ‘core services’ such as roads and rubbish collection, North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said today.

“Rodney Hide wants to outlaw council involvement in “social, economic, environmental, and cultural community outcomes” in favour of a narrow focus on the “core activities” of transport services, water services, and public health and safety services, arguing that local councils should not provide “services that benefit a limited number of people but for which the whole community is required to pay” because the “beneficiaries of the service “free ride” on other ratepayers.”

“Yet only back in August last year, speaking in Parliament on the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Bill, which he and his party voted for, Hide argued strongly in favour of long term council funding of the Auckland Observatory and Planetarium, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, the Auckland Theatre Company, the New Zealand National Maritime Museum, the Zoo, the Coastguard Northern Region, the Opera New Zealand, the Surf Life Saving Northern Region, the Auckland Festival Trust, and WaterSafe Auckland.”

“Rodney Hide went on to tell Parliament that the only fair way to fund these organisations is to “tax and rate” the people of greater Auckland to pay for them. And he actually had the gall to challenge those who did not support long term council funding of these public amenities and organisations to name which ones they would close. We could ask the same question of Rodney Hide today, not that we are likely to get a straight answer from him.”

“Rodney Hide’s hypocrisy on the issue of council core services is simply breathtaking. Ten months ago, he was firmly behind council funding of the Opera, the Maritime Museum, the Theatre Company, the Planetarium, and all the rest that he listed in Parliament, yet now, he says they “free ride” on the backs of ratepayers and ratepayers should not be forced to pay for them.”

“Prime Minister John Key is very sensibly distancing himself from Hide’s crazy plan to gut local government services, saying councils “are quite clearly involved in the delivery of social policy and quite a wide range of things” and that he expected councils to “continue to have quite wide responsibilities” for the wellbeing of their communities.”

“With his credibility over council core services now shot to pieces, and with the ‘super city’ plan he is ramming down our throats falling apart piece by piece, day by day, perhaps the message might start to sink in that 97 percent of New Zealanders did not vote for his extremist ACT policies and that they do not accept his ‘bully boy’ bulldozer tactics, and that he should abandon this foolish review and drop the rest of his crazy ACT plans for local government,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams also expressed disbelief that Rodney Hide would so easily abandon the very people he praised so highly back in August for their invaluable support for their communities.

“Rodney Hide praised to the rafters “the unsung work of people who support organisations that we all enjoy and that we all benefit from, and I do not think that those people get sufficient recognition. I would like to place that on record, on behalf of the whole House, because we all live in communities where people give up their time and make sacrifices for the things we enjoy.”

“Yet here is Rodney Hide today, rubbing the noses of these very people he was praising in the dirt, saying that the community organisations they work so hard to support are ‘freeloaders’ on the ratepayers and unworthy of ratepayer funding. He should be ashamed of himself,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams noted that a survey of North Shore ratepayers undertaken in late 2007 to test public support for council funding of regional amenities found that only a small percentage were opposed, with the highest being 13.68 percent opposed to funding the Auckland Theatre Company and the lowest being 9.12 percent opposed to funding the Zoo, showing that Rodney Hide is well out of step with public opinion on this issue.

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Hansard; Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Bill; 27 August 2008

Rodney Hide MP: “I ask people who object to this bill to ask themselves what it is they want to close. Is it the Auckland Observatory and Planetarium, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, the Auckland Theatre Company, the New Zealand National Maritime Museum, the Coastguard Northern Region, the Opera New Zealand, or perhaps the Surf Life Saving Northern Region? Perhaps it is the Auckland Festival Trust, or WaterSafe Auckland. They are the organisations that are to be funded by this bill.”

Rodney Hide MP: “I will close by saying that it is good to see that we have such agreement in this House—and the bit of disagreement that we have will not be here after the election [NZ First], so it will not be a problem. I would like to thank the many, many people who have worked for many, many years to get this bill here. That work is the unsung work of people who support organisations that we all enjoy and that we all benefit from, and I do not think that those people get sufficient recognition. I would like to place that on record, on behalf of the whole House, because we all live in communities where people give up their time and make sacrifices for the things we enjoy.”

Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee; EGI (09) 44; 6 April 2009

Hon Rodney Hide, Minister of Local Government: While there is no formal definition of core services for local government, I would expect there to be general acceptance that it includes transport services (roading, footpaths, and public transport), water services (water supply, sewage treatment, stormwater and flood protection) and public health and safety services (refuse collection and regulation of nuisances).

Hon Rodney Hide, Minister of Local Government: Councils can be pressured to expand their services by providing services that benefit a limited number of people but for which the whole community is required to pay. This raises equity issues as some beneficiaries of the service “free ride” on other ratepayers. This leads to the principle that costs should be distributed as closely as possible to benefits received.

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Andrew Williams, JP | Mayor of North Shore
Email mayor@northshorecity.govt.nz
Tel 09-4868687 Fax 09-4868445 Web http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz
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North Shore City Council
1 The Strand, Takapuna
Private Bag 93500, Takapuna,
North Shore City, New Zealand

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Rodney Hide – radical agenda for local government?

UPDATED

Too bloody late for Dunedin City Council and its sinkhole stadium…

### Radio New Zealand National Updated at 9:42am on 9 June 2009
Morning Report with Geoff Robinson & Sean Plunket

Local Government Act under review
Limits on spending and greater use of referenda could be the way of the future for local government. The proposals are set out in a Cabinet Paper prepared by Local Government Minister and ACT party leader Rodney Hide, which signals the start of a review of the Local Government Act. The proposals include councils operating within a defined fiscal envelope, and opening their books before elections.
Mr Hide says councils should focus on core activities. At present, there is no definition of core services. Mr Hide expects it to include transport services such as roads and footpaths, water, and public health and safety services, including rubbish collection. He says the list would be generous and include services like libraries.
He also wants to look at whether referenda should be used more often by councils.
Podcast (duration 3′02″)

Radical agenda seen
Labour and the Green Party say it’s a radical agenda. Labour MP Phil Twyford says Mr Hide wants to cut local government by stripping out cultural, social and environmental activities. Greens co-leader Russel Norman says the proposal would place great constraints on what local government can do.
Mr Hide says he wants greater transparency and accountability in local government and for ratepayers to have more say. He will report back to Cabinet on the review by the end of August, and wants to have new legislation in place before the 2010 local elections.

Support for referendums
Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws backs the suggestion by Mr Hide to force councils to hold referendums for spending on non-core activities. Wanganui District Council regularly uses referendums and Mr Laws says they work extraordinarily well and are “much more democratic” than the consultation process. He told Morning Report that’s because far more people turn out to have their say, rather than just the usual lobbyists and interested parties. He said 61% of voters took part in the most recent referendum.
Podcast (duration 10′26″)

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Radio New Zealand National Updated at 9:44pm on 9 June 2009
Referendum on super-city not feasible – Hide

A referendum on the Auckland super-city is not feasible, says Local Government Minister Rodney Hide – despite advocating it as part of future local government decision-making.

Mr Hide is recommending local councils focus more on what he describes as core services, with other projects put to ratepayer referendums.

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams favours the idea, but says Mr Hide is hypocritical in refusing a referendum on the super-city plan.
RNZ Link

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