Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Times of Georgia
HomePoliticalTime For A Reset | Scoop News

Time For A Reset | Scoop News


It’s time for local government to reset.

That’s
why I welcome Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s recent announcement
of the ‘future for local government’
review.

It’s been more than 30 years since a close
look was taken at the sector as a whole, resulting at the
time in the amalgamation of hundreds of drainage, pest and
other boards to create regional councils.

While I
think it’s been very successful, the legislative changes
now being thrust upon local government from up high will
result in financial struggles for the smaller rural
councils. Ultimately, it’s a burden that will be shifted
onto the ratepayer. While these councils do an awesome job
serving their communities, some mergers are
inevitable.

Prior to the Minister’s announcement,
Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive Don Good had
suggested amalgamation. I oppose a super council like
Auckland – it hasn’t brought the synergies of cost
effectiveness and other efficiencies we were told it would.
That’s evident in some of the big issues that council is
dealing with.

People like to meet with their mayor to
discuss issues and problems and it’s important that
connector be retained. I can’t see the likes of people in
Tūrangi wanting to be administered by the same super
council responsible for Port Charles and Port Waikato –
they have nothing in common!

With this said, I think a
reset is needed rather than large-scale reform. Local
government can do it better and more efficiently, without
throwing the baby out with the bath water. The key to
meaningful change is having central government, local
government and iwi at the table together.

It’s my
personal view that we need to see what the Government comes
up with around the functions of local government before any
future form can be decided.

There is a better way, no
doubt. This challenge from central government is something
we should embrace, taking the opportunity to work with them
to ensure better outcomes for our communities.

Your
voice has been heard

It’s vital that people take an
interest in local government and the decisions affecting
them.

That’s why I’m delighted at the high level of
interest there has been in Waikato Regional Council’s long
term plan, which closed for public feedback on 30 April
after a month of consultation.

All up we’ve received
just under 1500 submissions, with our proposal on our
Waikato to Auckland passenger rail service, Te Huia,
attracting the most feedback.

There are some strong
views which have been shared on all eight proposals, and
we’ve heard more from individuals, community groups, other
councils and organisations, during hearings in the second
week of May.

As councillors we go into deliberations
at the end of this month [May] with an open mind and
confidence that we’ll have an even more workable 10 year
plan by the end.

While consultation on this long term
plan has closed, I do encourage you to talk to your
constituent councillor and raise with them any issues you
think need to be considered by the regional council in the
future.

  • Russ Rimmington is chair of Waikato
    Regional Council. The views are his
    own.

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