Local Government Reforms

Better Local Gvt Pr08

The Government has announced some fairly significant local government reforms. They are not yet online so have embedded them above. The summary of them is:

  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

I think giving Mayors some modest powers is a good thing. At present they have no power beyond a Councillor except through the force of their leadership.  Having the Mayor propose the budget and Council above to approve a staffing cap and remuneration policy dilutes the powers of chief executives.

The new purpose statement looks much better focused to me, and also approve of fiscal responsibility requirements. However the key thing will be what they actually are, rather than just having them.

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