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Local Government rates inquiry details announced

Local Government rates inquiry details announced

Minister of Local Government Mark Burton today released the terms of reference, membership and other details of the independent inquiry into local government rates.

"The government has worked closely with New Zealand First in developing the terms of reference for the inquiry to ensure an independent and robust process.

"We also consulted with other political parties who showed a genuine interest in this issue, particularly the Greens, and considered the views of a range of organisations and key stakeholders such as Local Government New Zealand," Mark Burton said.

A three-member inquiry panel will conduct the inquiry. The members of the panel are David Shand, Graeme Horsley and Dr Christine Cheyne. David Shand will chair the panel.

Panel members were selected on the basis of their combined experience relevant to local government and the raft of skills and expertise in rating systems, taxation and financial management, governance and community participation and well-being.

The Terms of Reference set out the inquiry's objective, which is: 'to consider issues relating to current local government rating, and to other revenue raising mechanisms, and provide recommendations to the Government for enhancing rating and other funding mechanisms for local authorities.'

As part of its process the inquiry will look into: the level of rates and related trends; reports of the Local Authority Funding Project; drivers of local authority expenditure; the sustainability of rates as the major revenue raising tool; the impact of rates on land covered by the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993; the impact of government assistance initiatives, such as the rates rebates scheme; and the impact of exemptions from liability for rates.

The inquiry will commence work in November and report to the Government by 31 July 2007. Public submissions will be called for early in the new year. The public submission process will receive both written and some oral submissions, and run for a period of three months.

"Issues relating to the way local authorities are funded are of significant interest to ratepayers and both local and central government. The use of an independent inquiry such as this is the most effective process for looking at these important issues," Mark Burton said.

"I am confident that the skills and expertise brought to this inquiry by the panel members will ensure that the issues are well canvassed. I look forward to receiving the inquiry's final report next year," he said.

"I would encourage all those who have an interest in local government rating issues to provide input to the inquiry once the public submission process gets underway, either through their relevant interest group representative bodies or directly to the inquiry," Mark Burton said.

Independent Inquiry into Local Government Rates – Panel Members

David Shand – chairperson

Mr Shand has extensive international financial experience, most recently for over eight years as a public financial management specialist at both the World Bank and the IMF – International Monetary Fund. He has also worked with the OECD. He has held a number of senior positions in state and federal government in Australia, including Deputy Secretary of the Victorian Treasury and Queensland Public Service Commissioner. In the early 1970s Mr Shand was a city councillor with the Wellington City Council. Mr Shand is also a Director of Meridian Energy Ltd. He is a former University lecturer in public sector accounting and budgeting and has published numerous articles on public management – in areas of public financial management.

Graeme Horsley – panel member

Mr Horsley is a former partner of Ernst and Young's real estate practice and is widely recognised as an expert in property investment and valuation. He is a Life Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Valuers (NZIV). He was for 12 years the NZIV representative on the International Valuation Standards Committee, and was chair of the Committee between 1989 and 1993. He is a member of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and has held a number of company directorships including Carter Group Ltd, Trustbank Wellington, and Housing New Zealand. Mr Horsley also has international experience of the real estate sector undertaking consulting assignments in Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. More recently he has focussed on major corporate and public sector issues in investment and economic analysis.

Dr Christine Cheyne – panel member

Dr Cheyne is a senior lecturer at Massey University. She has studied and written on local government in New Zealand. She is an environmental sustainability representative on the Horizons Regional Council Regional Land Transport Committee, and is a member of the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board. She has previously worked in planning and research for the Palmerston North City Council. Dr Cheyne has specialist knowledge in the community welfare aspect of local government, including community planning, representation, participation and well-being which has been the focus of her research and work. In addition she has contributed to publications on local government leadership, decision-making and governance.


ENDS

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