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Recognising the spirit of partnership

Recognising the spirit of partnership
For immediate release on 28 October 2008


In response to the National Party’s local government policy, released today, Local Government New Zealand reconfirmed its support for policies that promote working closely with local government, particularly on funding and infrastructure needs.

“We support policies that recognise the need for a greater cost sharing between central and local government in the development and maintenance of infrastructure. We have for some time sought undertakings to more systematically identify, and hopefully compensate, local councils for the costs created by central government legislation,” said President Lawrence Yule.

“The current global financial situation is likely to highlight the issue identified in the recent rates inquiry (and historical inquiries since the 1950s) that the current level of reliance on rates to fund network infrastructure on behalf of communities and of all New Zealand, is unsustainable.

“We support any undertaking to more systematically identify, and hopefully recompense, the costs created for councils by legislation. Central government has significantly greater revenue-raising powers and is in a position to transfer some of these funds, along with additional responsibilities that have been delegated, to local authorities.

“Councils are close to their communities, and will try to, where practicable, to defer some expenses so rates increases don’t contribute to pressures. These decisions will be made carefully as the consequences may be reduced services or deferring costs to future years. However, government legislation itself can be a significant contributor to rates rises, through complex implementation and compliance costs.

“Councils will always need to balance concern for ratepayers with the need to maintain core activities and the contribution of public works to the strength of local economies.

“Local government must be a key partner in any future discussion of New Zealand’s infrastructure needs. We welcome this commitment to investing in infrastructure to keep the economy strong and to providing guarantees to ensure credit continues to be available where needed and deposits are protected.

“Finally, we have had long-standing concerns that the formula for setting wards has left some communities without appropriate representation. We welcome any proposals to ensure communities can be adequately represented.

“We look forward to working with the incoming Government through the Central Local Government Forum and other avenues to pursue these issues on behalf or our member councils.” says Mr Yule.

Note Local Government New Zealand’s full election manifesto The Spirit of Partnership Consult. Fund. Collaborate is available from www.lgnz.co.nz

ENDS

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