betty van gaalenVeteran Kapiti politician calls for better behaviour from  Councillors

By Alan Tristram

A veteran Kapiti local body politician says she’s worried about the way some new councillors behaved at the first two meetings of the new-elected Council .

And Betty van Gaalen has called for the offenders to recognise that the Mayor or Chairperson’s ruling is final —  not something to be answered back, or ignored. She  writes …

‘As the New Year begins let us move on from the events that many found unacceptable in 2013.

The election has brought a diverse group of people to the Council table with different values and ideas.

The new Mayor must meld them into a workable, collaborative Council working for the good of Kapiti. This may take time.

As a 15 year Kapiti Council watcher, and a previous local, city, county, and regional Councillor with 27 years’ experience, I can see the pitfalls that are there if Councillors do not follow Meetings procedures, Standing Orders, and the Code of Conduct, that together govern the way Councils work.

Meeting procedures allow items on the Agenda to be dealt with in a professional manner.

Whilst realising that Council is new, and some members do not know how to work within a governance structure, it is up to each Councillor to be co-operative, read all the reports, and if they do not understand, to ask the CEO before the meetings.

He is there to proffer advice and to help get the work done in a business like way, not as Councillors carried on during the first two meetings in Nov/December.

The Mayor/Chairperson’s ruling is final, not to be answered back, or ignored. Debate is the way issues are settled, not by conversation which does not allow ‘points’ being made or rebutted. There are disciplines to be absorbed.

We are beginning a new era for KCDC, not just with a new Council but with new projects that must be considered such as regional re-organisation, the Proposed District Plan, the introduction of water supply charges, and possible change to the rating system by moving to Capital Valuation instead of Land Value.

As well as these, it is important that Councillors understand the effect Government policy will have on the rate payers in particular the proposed amendment to the Local Government Act regarding the proposals for the removal of Development Contributions for specific activities that could see the council picking up large amounts of the levies now being paid for by the developers.

This will mean additional loans to meet the lost income and consequential rate increases. The Council could also face difficulties with its debit/equity ratio.

Councillors need to be given time to settle in, come to grow into their new

role, to learn to work together in a co-operative way to get through the

work that has to be done in 2014.’