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Monday
Mar192012

Nick Smith's Reforms

Here is the Government Statement

Disregard the various interpretations that you can see all over the blogosphere.

Here is the substance of what is proposed:

  1. Refocus the purpose of local government - to change from the ‘social, economic,environmental and cultural well-being of communities’ to ‘providing good quality local infrastructure, public services and regulatory functions at the least possible cost to households and business.’
  2. Introduce fiscal responsibility requirements – will allow Government to set fiscal limits for Councils such as debt, income and expenditure levels. Flexibility in case of disasters though.
  3. Strengthen council governance provisions – will allow Councils to set a cap on staff numbers and set a remuneration policy. Also salaries to be disclosed in bands like for central Govt.
    Also powers of Auckland Mayor to be extended to all Mayors – to appoint Deputy Mayor, Committee Chairs and propose the budget.
  4. Streamline council reorganisation procedures
  5. Establish a local government efficiency taskforce
  6. Develop a framework for central/local government regulatory roles
  7. Investigate the efficiency of local government infrastructure provision
  8. Review the use of development contributions

And here is the killer - this is what is going to stop our Mayor and his compliant Council dead in its tracks - read carefully:

The Local Government Act (2002) is to be amended to replace references to the 'social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of commuinities' (the four well beings) with a new purpose for councils of 'providing good quality local infrastructure, public services and regulatory functions at the

This particular intention of Government will do more than anything else to bring councillors back to the basics, and prevent them meddling in matters in which they have no competence. From my point of view it will be a great relief not to have to put up with any more pompous platitudes about the 'four well beings' by that paragon of rectitude, Cr Bartley. All subject to of course to Key and Smith not fudging the whole thing with references to "the public good."

Also, whatever has happened to the stated intention of Minister Smith to deal to the Regional Councils is anyone's guess. I suspect that there is more to come, and regardless of bleating from Mayor Brown about the World Cup, and Ancient Games, that his and other Councils will find it increasingly difficult to become involved in, and 'interesting' projects outside of infrastructure, and services should become the absolute exception to the rule.

Central Government will certainly learn what the removal of all these functions from local government will mean in terms of its own costs - there may be substantial lag before some of those functions are taken up, if ever. We could be entering a new age of austerity, with local organisations more dependent on their own resources. The effect on the TYP is indeterminate at this stage, but it could be substantial, and require even greater scrutiny that may otherwise have been the case.

It is interesting to note that even Internal Affairs has compiled rates statistics that fail to take into account the 52% absentee  factor and thus perpetuate the nonsense published by the Star-Times and  Hauraki Herald.  They have produced statistics that are totally meaningless in this regard as an Appendix to the statement.   

 

 

 

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