The size of Christchurch City Council could be increased by more than a third because of concerns councillors are spread too thinly across the city.
The elected arm of the council consists of the mayor and 13 councillors but a working party set up to review representation arrangements in Christchurch is concerned that is not enough for the size of the city’s population.
Based on the current size, there is only one councillor for every 26,000 people in Christchurch, which is far below the ratio in other metropolitan cities where there is, on average, one councillor for every 16,500 people.
Other cities (except Auckland) have smaller population and inevitably a higher ratio. Look at the data:
Christchurch – 13 councillors (one per 26,000 residents)
Hamilton – 12 councillors (one per 12,512 residents)
Wellington City – 14 councillors (one per 14,102 residents)
Dunedin – 14 councillors (one per 8823 residents)
Nelson – 12 councillors (one per 4058 residents)
Auckland – 20 councillors (one per 74,645 residents)
What I read from this is that all major cities except Auckland have 12 to 14 Councillors. So Christchurch is not unusual.
With each councillor entitled to a salary of close to $100,000, increasing the size of the council to 19 will add at least $600,000 to the cash-strapped council’s operating costs.
But worse than that, a large Council becomes a worse decision maker. There is a wealth of literature on optimal sizes for councils and boards to function well. It tends to be between five and nine. As Councils do have a need to be representative, they are often a bit larger at 10 to 12. But you never really want to go beyond 12.
If there is extra workload from the earthquakes, then a better solution than more Councillors would be more resources for Councillors.