Ōtaki Community Board member, Jackie Elliott says changes made to the Local Government Reform bill during its third reading in Parliament require close scrutiny to ensure the best outcomes for local decision making.
“The Local Government Amendment Bill passed its third reading last week and is expected to pass into law before Christmas. The task of rewriting policy to enable it to be enacted will pass to the hands of the Local Government Commission. Their public consultation process is likely to result in a finalised two tier proposal for the Governance structure for the Wellington Region.
Ms Elliott said the process to initiate a public poll or referendum on the issue as part of consultation,can be raised by a 10% vote of the total of ratepayers from any single affected district. The previous 30 40 day poll period has recently been extended to 60 days. On this timeframe, the rollover for the next Local Body Elections is expected to be three to four months into 2014.
Due to recent amendments made over readings one-three, the bill in it’s present form has changed from it’s original manifestation and will take many by surprise. Those continuing to call for the preservation of the present Community Board option are obviously not aware of the changes in the bill.
Under the legislation that went through this week, the terms being used will impact on the Kāpiti district and need to be appreciated. They are interesting. ‘Governing Body’ This is the largest Governing Body for the region. The term ‘Local Boards’ – replaces the term, ‘Local Council’. Community Boards are not part of the deal under the new legislation but the number of Local Boards in each district is not limited. Enabling strong representation.
KCDC could theoretically be comprised of four or five Local Boards. It is yet to be decided if this figure will be determined on a population basis or land area basis.But the number of Board members has been set at between four and nine.Each Local Board,unilaterally able to preserve local identity.
In terms of funding, The Governing body as the sole rating agency will be the funding source for the boards. However each will be required to produce Long Term Plans (LTP’s), District and Annual Plans. There is no reason why current LTP’s and District Plans cannot be utilized.
How to protect and preserve local decision making on local issues will be one of the key discussions. The decision to abolish current Community Boards is up to the Local Government Commission and based on suggestions made during the submission process. “However it is my opinion that the possible outcome of multiple Local Boards could be a better system to serve those who live in the many unique towns and communities that make up the Kāpiti district.” says Ms Elliott.