Costs of representation change need to be known

LETTER

Re: Won’t new boards add council costs? May 25 letter and response.

I think the public should be given the figures well before the appeal/submission deadline. The apparent fiscally neutral envelope must surely have a debit in staff costs to prepare for and service board meetings? It will still have to be carried out for existing councillors.

Four less councillors will have a negligible effect but three new boards will have costs outside of remuneration.

Re: Best representation model for us, May 22 column.

So councillor, cast your mind back to the 2016 local authority election and its result. What mandate do you think you obtained to vote for the reduction in the number of elected members and removal of the ward system? Could you also tell us how rural voices will definitely be heard through community boards, which have no decision-making power?

Finally, what cost-benefit information did you have available before making your decision? Did you consider that the cost savings in having three to five less councillors might well be exceeded by additional community board member expenses and costs of servicing meetings?

G.R. Webb

Footnote response from Josh Wharehinga:

These are fair comments and ones already echoed around the council table. Forgive me, but my column is limited to only 600 words so I had to focus on the decision that was made. I didn’t have room to talk about powers, costs and how community boards may operate.

The council gave clear directions for the proposed model to be cost neutral. Both in terms of dollars and staffing. We were assured that this was achievable and now it’s on us to ensure it happens that way. This was absolutely a major concern of mine, as it should be being the deputy chairman for Finance and Audit. This concern was also echoed around the council table.

All councillors have equal mandate across the table. We all listen to the community’s feedback, read our papers, check legislation and compliance then make our collective decisions accordingly. No individual councillor has the mandate alone, collectively we do though. That’s democracy.

The quality of the community boards and the council is contingent on the quality of people you elect to those positions. If we want community boards to be functional and meaningful then we need to elect people who will empower that to happen. Voting competent people on to the community boards will ensure there is quality voice; voting competent people on to council will ensure council gives effect to the community board voices.

I’m not going to take a position on what powers should sit where until I see how the model rolls out. I can guarantee you I will vote for what the information and the community tells me is the most sensible.

I encourage anyone who would like to know more to watch the video online of the public deputations, workshopping and deliberations on the day of the representation review meeting. Also read the submissions and the council paperwork, it is full of a lot of great information.

Again, if you have feedback regarding this model then please send it through to the Local Government Commission. Have your say.

Re: Won’t new boards add council costs? May 25 letter and response.

I think the public should be given the figures well before the appeal/submission deadline. The apparent fiscally neutral envelope must surely have a debit in staff costs to prepare for and service board meetings? It will still have to be carried out for existing councillors.

Four less councillors will have a negligible effect but three new boards will have costs outside of remuneration.

Re: Best representation model for us, May 22 column.

So councillor, cast your mind back to the 2016 local authority election and its result. What mandate do you think you obtained to vote for the reduction in the number of elected members and removal of the ward system? Could you also tell us how rural voices will definitely be heard through community boards, which have no decision-making power?

Finally, what cost-benefit information did you have available before making your decision? Did you consider that the cost savings in having three to five less councillors might well be exceeded by additional community board member expenses and costs of servicing meetings?

G.R. Webb

Footnote response from Josh Wharehinga:

These are fair comments and ones already echoed around the council table. Forgive me, but my column is limited to only 600 words so I had to focus on the decision that was made. I didn’t have room to talk about powers, costs and how community boards may operate.

The council gave clear directions for the proposed model to be cost neutral. Both in terms of dollars and staffing. We were assured that this was achievable and now it’s on us to ensure it happens that way. This was absolutely a major concern of mine, as it should be being the deputy chairman for Finance and Audit. This concern was also echoed around the council table.

All councillors have equal mandate across the table. We all listen to the community’s feedback, read our papers, check legislation and compliance then make our collective decisions accordingly. No individual councillor has the mandate alone, collectively we do though. That’s democracy.

The quality of the community boards and the council is contingent on the quality of people you elect to those positions. If we want community boards to be functional and meaningful then we need to elect people who will empower that to happen. Voting competent people on to the community boards will ensure there is quality voice; voting competent people on to council will ensure council gives effect to the community board voices.

I’m not going to take a position on what powers should sit where until I see how the model rolls out. I can guarantee you I will vote for what the information and the community tells me is the most sensible.

I encourage anyone who would like to know more to watch the video online of the public deputations, workshopping and deliberations on the day of the representation review meeting. Also read the submissions and the council paperwork, it is full of a lot of great information.

Again, if you have feedback regarding this model then please send it through to the Local Government Commission. Have your say.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Manu Caddie - 23 days ago
I'm happy to pay more for a much improved local democracy. Community boards could be given full control over their area if the council wanted to delegate substantive powers to them. People critical of potential cost increases should just as quickly argue against any public services and support a governance group of one glorious leader.

G R Webb - 19 days ago
I know of no provision in local government legislation that allows for such delegation of power or authority. Community boards are a toothless creature of statute, a repository of everyone's gripes and need form no part of local government in this district.

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