Proposal positive for whole district

LETTER

It is exciting to see the council decision to support a reduction in the number of councillors, having all representatives elected by the whole district and to establish community boards.

I would like to acknowledge the way Rehette Stoltz chaired the complex and contentious four-hour discussion and I noted some particularly insightful comments from councillors Wilson and Dowsing.

As a rural resident — who was previously a city resident and ratepayer — I am confident these changes will be positive for our whole district.

Having all elected members selected by the whole district reduces the risk of patch protection around the council table and should increase the sense of responsibility all councillors have for the whole district, instead of going into bat for the particular community of interest that elected them.

Likewise three community boards ensures there will still be elected representatives from across the district, and in fact an increase in representation and improved access for both rural and urban residents to elected members.

There were important questions from councillors about the funding and structure of community boards. Representatives are paid from the same pool of money as councillors, so there won’t be more cost there — additional staff time will cost extra, but the value to the quality of democracy is difficult to underestimate.

In terms of the power of the boards and the implementation of this new structure, I would think a staged increase in delegated authority would be prudent so the new structures can have the time to “bed down” and progressively increase their responsibility for budget and policy decisions within their area, and indeed their influence on council strategy and priorities.

MANU CADDIE, Ruatoria

It is exciting to see the council decision to support a reduction in the number of councillors, having all representatives elected by the whole district and to establish community boards.

I would like to acknowledge the way Rehette Stoltz chaired the complex and contentious four-hour discussion and I noted some particularly insightful comments from councillors Wilson and Dowsing.

As a rural resident — who was previously a city resident and ratepayer — I am confident these changes will be positive for our whole district.

Having all elected members selected by the whole district reduces the risk of patch protection around the council table and should increase the sense of responsibility all councillors have for the whole district, instead of going into bat for the particular community of interest that elected them.

Likewise three community boards ensures there will still be elected representatives from across the district, and in fact an increase in representation and improved access for both rural and urban residents to elected members.

There were important questions from councillors about the funding and structure of community boards. Representatives are paid from the same pool of money as councillors, so there won’t be more cost there — additional staff time will cost extra, but the value to the quality of democracy is difficult to underestimate.

In terms of the power of the boards and the implementation of this new structure, I would think a staged increase in delegated authority would be prudent so the new structures can have the time to “bed down” and progressively increase their responsibility for budget and policy decisions within their area, and indeed their influence on council strategy and priorities.

MANU CADDIE, Ruatoria

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