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National’s cost estimates nonsense

National’s cost estimates nonsense

In responding to Bill English’s campaign against the Local Government Bill, Mayor Garry Moore today described his estimates of cost increases following the enactment of the Local Government Bill as nonsense.

“It’s hardly surprising that Bill can’t explain or defend their estimated cost increases – they are a complete fiction,” said Mr Moore.

“New local government legislation is about 25 years overdue and modernisation need not cost a lot,” he said.

“The Local Government Bill will require Councils to change some of the things they do but the sector is working together to minimise the costs of change. Comprehensive work being done jointly by Local Government New Zealand, the Society of Local Government Managers and the Department of Internal Affairs will make it as easy as possible for Councils to respond to the new law.”

Mr Moore was also unimpressed by comments about the magnitude of rate increases over the last decade.

“I might be just a simple chartered accountant but if I look back over the last ten years at what has driven local government costs, one of the key drivers was the huge number of central government activities that successive National governments required local government to take on – requiring ratepayers to fund them,” he said.

“A National Government put in place the Resource Management Act and the RMA processes have cost Councils hundreds of millions of dollars. A National government scrapped financial assistance for the provision of social housing leaving Councils with substantial costs. There are many, many more examples of this,” said Mr Moore.

Other drivers of costs during the last decade have been the positive requirements to improve local government management and financial management in particular. Funding depreciation, appropriate long term asset management, more stringent environmental standards, increased costs of road construction and necessary investment in infrastructure have also been major drivers of costs in local government.

“Does anyone seriously believe that we should not invest in roads or let sewerage run in the streets because to do so might require the Council to increase expenditure by slightly more than the rate of inflation?” Mr Moore commented.

“Its time we got real about this and it time local government law provided the right framework for sensible local governance.”

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