Government plans to restructure local government yet again will have a huge effect on the Kapiti Coast community.
The far-reaching plans have just been announced by Local Government Minister Nick Smith.
Although local Government Minister Nick Smith says he wants to cut rate rises and council debt, he will also be emasculating many local council functions in the biggest shake-up of local councils for many years.
The Kapiti Long-Term Council Community Plan –- which has involved many thousands of hours of public and KCDC officials’ time – looks likely to be thrown out the window as councils are told to concentrate on ‘core’ activities.
The core activities cover roads, water, sewerage, storm-water services and, luckily, public libraries.
It’s a right-wing agenda and much spending on social, cultural and environmental activities will be slashed.
Councils will only be allowed to increase spending in line with inflation and population growth, under the proposed changes to the Local Government Act,2002.
The plan will also allow local bodies to merge more easily.
Mr Smith says the “Better Local Government” plan will ‘provide clarity around the role of councils, stronger governance, improved efficiency and more responsible financial management.’
The plan includes eight specific initiatives – four of which are to be introduced to Parliament in May and should be passed in September.
Dr Smith says the first four points would refocus the purpose of local government, introduce fiscal responsibility requirements, strengthen council governance provisions and streamline council reorganisation procedures.
Dr Smith has previously raised concern about ongoing rate increases, which he said had risen on average by 7 per cent each year since 2002.
“The reforms will help keep rates affordable and debt at prudent levels by focusing councils on their core roles, setting clear fiscal responsibility requirements and giving councils more tools to better manage costs.”
The remaining reforms would include a local government efficiency task force, a framework around local and central government regulatory roles, an investigation into efficient infrastructure provision and review of development contributions, and would be undertaken in consultation with Local Government New Zealand.