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Commission Opportunity in Battle for Rates Reform

THE nationwide CAMPAIGN TO REPLACE THE PRESENT SYSTEM OF COUNCIL RATES WITH A FAIRER SYSTEM which reflects ability to pay and value for money.

MEDIA RELEASE 5th March 2008

Statement from David Thornton.

Royal Commission is Opportunity to Continue the Battle for Rates Reform.

‘SuperCity Council’a real threat to local democracy and accountability.

The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance offers the opportunity for the conclusions and recommendations of last year’s Rates Inquiry to be seriously considered at the same time as the Commission investigates possible alternative governance structures for the region.

The Royal Commission states quite specifically that, in relation to funding issues, it will ‘rely largely on the conclusions of that [Rates] Inquiry’

The ‘Call for Submissions’ document issued by the Royal Commission asks many thought- provoking and highly relevant questions, and I would strongly urge all ratepayers to address these questions – while recalling the Rates Inquiry conclusion that council rates are becoming unaffordable for some groups in the community.

The Royal Commission stresses that it wants to hear about alternative structures for governance in the region – and is looking for facts to support opinions and options.

There is a very real threat to ratepayers in the proposal for a single ‘SuperCity Council’ which business lobbies are preparing to present to the Royal Commission.

In such a structure the ‘SuperCity Council’ would collect and spend all rates – with most ratepayers having little ability to have any influence over spending priorities.

Local decision-making on the level of rate increases would be a thing of the past.

In addition to the rates issue it is important that residents of the region address the issues of local democracy and the accountability of elected members.

Local democracy and accountability will be weakened if decision-making is transferred to a single all-powerful regional council which could include non-elected members.

The Royal Commission offers ratepayers a significant opportunity to continue the battle for a fair funding system for local councils – and to put pressure on councils to control their expenditure to acceptable and affordable levels.


[NOTE. David Thornton is also Deputy Chairman of Glenfield Community Board, a former North City Councillor and a former member of the Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee. He has also been a council representative on The Auckland Museum Trust Board and the Tourism Auckland Board]

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