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Auckland reform not about saving on rates

Tuesday, 1st July, 2008

Auckland reform not about saving on rates

The changes proposed to Auckland's councils by the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) won't mean huge reductions in ratepayers bills, the association told the Royal Commission on Auckland at its hearings this afternoon.

Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive quoted from a report done for EMA by Deloitte consultants costing the reforms at a one off cost of about $306 million, with ongoing resulting annual savings of $132 million a year, a pay back of two and a half years.

"But with an infrastructure deficit of around $16 billion hanging over the region, we have always made clear that there were never going to be big savings in rates," Mr Thompson said.

"What they will do is make sure that decisions are made in a timely, cost effective manner with good governance structures in place to future proof Auckland.

"The reforms are to ensure our city can become far more competitive and productive.

"New points we made to the Commissioners were to supplement EMA's submission including that the Mayor of the Greater Auckland Council should be elected at large, ie from the whole Auckland region.

"The person so elected would enter office with a mandate from the general public and any council would need strong public support and solid reasons if they were to oppose such a person's policies.

"An elected Mayor would also gather about him or her councillors voted in on the same or similar public sentiment and direction as he/she, thereby supplying the Mayor with council support.

"Most important, although the Mayor has only one vote, because of their mandate, he/she has the advantage of moral persuasion over other councillors. So our view is that a Mayor not able to leverage this power to garner the support of councillors would probably not be the right person for the job.

"Another point made strongly was that local communities should decide their own boundaries in conjunction with the Local Government Commission."

Mr Thompson stressed that the EMA's submission was on behalf of Auckland's 1.4 million people, not to benefit business, and had been developed over nine years of consultation, and debate with hundreds of people and over 70 other organizations including with government, unions, social, business and the community.

ENDS


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