Options for a Wellington super city

February 28th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

would have the biggest council in New Zealand if either one of a working party’s super-city options for the region goes ahead.

A local government reform working party is proposing two options: one with a mayor and 29 councillors, the other with 22 elected members including a mayor, plus community boards.

Is there a third option?

Councils need to be manageable sizes. 29 and 22 is not.

You need fewer Councillors and more decisions done at local board level.

THE OPTIONS

TWO TIERS

One unitary authority for the Greater Wellington region.

One mayor for the region, and 21 councillors elected by wards.

The wards would be Lower Hutt (4 councillors), Kapiti (2), Porirua (3), Upper Hutt (2), Wairarapa (2), North-Central Wellington (5), South Wellington (3).

Eight local community boards based on the seven wards, but with North-Central Wellington split into two.

ONE TIER

One unitary authority.

One mayor for the region, and 29 councillors elected by wards.

The wards would be the same as the two-tier model, but with more representatives.

My preference is the first option but with fewer Councillors.

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18 Responses to “Options for a Wellington super city”

  1. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    The third option has to be the status quo. That is preferable, not only because of the unwieldy size of the council in the two options above, but because there is no fundamental reason that the Wellington region requires a super city structure.

    Improvements could be more readily achieved through local bodies voluntarily collaborating more and possibly shifting a few of the more common responsibilities/issues to the Wellington Regional Council [but not so much as to turn it into some de facto super city type group.]

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  2. rouppe (983 comments) says:

    I don’t think the Wairarapa should be part of the unitary council. The imperatives and pressures that the Wellignton city region faces bear no resemblance to the imperatives and pressures that Masterton, Caterton, Greytown, Featherston and Martinborough face.

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  3. lazza (401 comments) says:

    ONE TIER David I suggest for the “Big Windy” … if our experience here in Auckland is anything to go by. We have two tiers, Whole of Council and Community Boards … and it plain “aint working”.

    Simply put, a one tier structure allows Community-to-Council governance links to be accountable, effective and responsive.

    Local full Council Councillor reps (23 of them) are invariably off on offical head office business most of the time and the community thereby is disconnected from the real power and funding

    Community boards unsurprisingly (given human nature and the structure used) are a sinecure and are treated as a nuisance by the HO heavies. They have little effect on good governance and bottom up representation.

    Go with ONE tier for sure.

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  4. iMP (2,456 comments) says:

    We are already waaay over governed in NZ. We got rid of the elected Regional Council in canterbury, haven’t noticed its absence.

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  5. Fisiani (1,052 comments) says:

    The wards looking forwards and not backwards could instead be Lower Hutt (4 (3) councillors), Kapiti (2 (1)), Porirua (3 (2) ), Upper Hutt (2 (1)), Wairarapa (2 (1)), North-Central Wellington (5 (3)), South Wellington (3 (2)). ie 14 councillors and 1 Mayor

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  6. Nigel Kearney (1,096 comments) says:

    Seems like yet another way to transfer money from people who earned it to people who didn’t. There’s nothing wrong with the status quo. Councils can achieve economies of scale through joint purchasing and service delivery without political amalgamation. The super city concept hasn’t worked well in Auckland and has locked in Labour party control of the whole region as long as they keep taking from North and Central Auckland and spending in West and South Auckland.

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  7. Flyingkiwi9 (55 comments) says:

    All this will mean that well behaved, tight arse council like the Upper Hutt will have to pay for Wellington’s debt.

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  8. redeye (633 comments) says:

    This presentation was prepared for the defeated Nelson Tasman amalgamation proposal. It’s relevant to all amalgamation proposals and is worth a watch, if that’s your interest.

    http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/YourCouncil-1365334-nelsontasman201203/

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  9. labrator (1,851 comments) says:

    After the roaring ‘success’ that Auckland’s supercity has been the only reason I can think anyone would want this for Wellington is egos, big gigantic egos. Goes hand in hand with the statement “Wellington would have the biggest council in New Zealand”. It’s just a giant ego fest’ screwing over locals who have less and less say.

    My preferred solution would be councils as a minimum executive who take rates and then outsource all the work. The only assets on the council books would be land for parks and reserves. Then we wouldn’t need any of this ‘super’ anything which pretends like it can get more efficient by getting bigger. Efficiency isn’t gained solely by being bigger, especially when there is no loss to the implementers for being wrong. Who got the bill for leaky homes? It wasn’t the idiots in the council who loaded it on everyone.

    I think we should copy Sandy Springs and can the egos.

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  10. backster (2,196 comments) says:

    How many members will there be on the Maori Advisory Board.?……

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  11. gazzmaniac (2,306 comments) says:

    My preference would be to not amalgamate at all. Otaki is already ignored by the KCDC, and I don’t see that getting any better if it was part of Wellington City Council.

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  12. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    GO AWAY.

    I moved to the Wairarapa expressly to get OUT of Wellington.

    We have our own water supply and sewerage disposal issues. What would a Wellington Mega Council with minimal representation from this area want to know about that when 90%+ of voters are on the big city systems?

    Oh and when we bought our house SWDC were unbelievably better to deal with than anyone at WCC I’ve ever come across. Why would we want to buy into that?

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  13. lastmanstanding (1,310 comments) says:

    IMHO after 25 years in governance as soon as you get a decision making body with more than 9 ( always got to be an uneven number to avoid the Chairman having to make a casting vote) you get crapola decisions.

    7 or 9 of the RIGHT people with the RIGHT blend and balance of skills for the task will give you a balanced and good decision.

    And to avoid them out staying their used by date tenure shouls be either 2X 3 year terms or a max of 3X3 year terms. One third to retire each year.

    Thats why central and local government is the governance shambles that it is. Too many with too few of the right skills trying the decide what they clearly dont understand.

    Better still IMHO we need a begnin dictatorship like old Mr Lee was in Singapore back in the 60s and 70s. Mr Lee was the reason that Singapore went from a swampy smelly rat infested hell hole to one of the economic power houses that it is today.

    None of this namby pamby trying to be nice to everyone and pleasing noone.

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  14. SPC (5,664 comments) says:

    All amalgamation means is that there is collective ownership of assets and a collective debt to pay off.

    At present councils can form region wide organisations (they can and should do more of this) and own shares in it. If one wants to retain its ownership share (because they have low debt) they can. But now they will be forced to sell to pay off the collective debt – a lot of which is Wellington’s and Kapiti. Guess where the support for a super city comes from – areas with the debt.

    Opposition is so strong in the Hutt Valley that the two councils would rather merge than have anything to do with this and over the hill unity for the Wairarapa is preferred despite the prospect of increased rates.

    Any attempt to force a super city is going to cost National party list votes from the region.

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  15. lazza (401 comments) says:

    Wgton Super City debt issue: Suggest someone does some simple debt/equity sums for each of the merging Councils as they stand now. The per ratepayer’s debt-equity ratio (Debt/Assets) will be different for each. Using a per ratepayer basis is most revealing/understandable.

    Those merging Councils with high debt relative to their equity (a high D/E ratio) are most likely to be on “a winner” when amalgamated given the lazy-sloppy accounting treatment that will more than likely be adopted … again, if the Auckland Council policy of “pooling of debt” process is replicated.

    Waitakere and Rodney were very high!! debt Councils and since amalgamation have had a free (subsidized is a better word) debt/interest ride. Makes you think huh? … in the Hutt?

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  16. Steve (North Shore) (4,536 comments) says:

    Would you like us to send Uncle Len and his advisors down so they can tell you how it will be done?
    We could do with a break from his fucking nonsense

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  17. PhilP (163 comments) says:

    @ Rouppe

    I am not in favour of the Wairarapa going it alone as a Unitary Council. The Wairarapa has been inexplicably linked to Wellington for as long as the first goat track was cut through the bush and Rimutaka Hill back in the 1800’s. I see Wellington as my city and I hope it remains so. I also see major rate increases for us if we “go it alone”. Ratepayers will be crippled, we are just too small a region to be viable and we need Wellington.

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  18. libertyscott (344 comments) says:

    The late Owen McShane once wrote that the optimum size of a local authority was to be big enough to attract talent in management, but not too big that it would have enough of a pool of ratepayers to dabble with empire building, totemic projects and other activities that would be a drain on the district concerned.

    The Auckland super city has proven the latter, as a large empire building entity has shown little real impact in terms of improved service delivery, but a massive increase in interest in expanding its scope of activities, and in pursuing large totemic projects (plus it lobbies effectively to strongarm money from central government).

    Wellington does not need a super city. There is a case for Wairarapa councils to unify because they are too small, and there is a case for Kapiti and Horowhenua to do the same, perhaps even the two Hutts. However, Wellington is big enough as it is.

    Far more important than this idiotic pursuit of empire building is to establish what councils should and should not do. At that point, let ratepayers decide in a referendum if they want to amalgamate. Politicians of course love this, as there are few things they enjoy more than having power over much more than they would have otherwise.

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