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No New Powers in Local Government Bill

No New Powers in Local Government Bill

Local Government New Zealand President Basil Morrison today reacted strongly against the statements being made by Bill English about the Local Government Bill and its consequences.

“There are no new powers in the Bill and no new sources of revenue. There is nothing in it that will change the reality that Councils face today – if they want to do something new they must either stop doing or reduce a current activity – or they will need to find some new revenue.”

Mr Morrison noted that “increasing rates to fund new activities is never popular and without community support for their spending, local government politicians soon find themselves pursuing other career options.”

Mr Morrison believes that people have little to fear in the Local Government Bill and that in his thirty years of experience in local government voters soon turn on those that do not carefully manage the limited resources that their communities have.

“Every Mayor knows that it is the job of the Council to provide a framework for the people in their community to be successful. Communities need infrastructure, they need good roads, good drinking water, effective waste water treatment and people in rural New Zealand need vibrant urban communities and townies need our primary producers to be efficient and productive.”

The new Local Government Bill makes this concern for the well-being of our people the primary concern of local government – but it does not mean that Councils will suddenly change what they are doing.

Mr Morrison was also astounded by Mr English’s suggestion that Council expenditure should never increase by more than the rate of inflation.

“Is Mr English seriously suggesting that rural New Zealand should stop road works when the price of road construction and maintenance increases at faster rate than the rate of inflation?”

“If I went to my ratepayers and said that I had to stop seal extensions or road re-construction because construction costs had increased by more than the rate of inflation I would be quite rightly condemned by my rural ratepayers.”

“Its time to stop the nonsense, pass the Local Government Bill and get on with the real business of local government – advocating for and investing in the betterment of our communities,” Mr Morrison said.

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