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ARC endorses governance proposals

ARC endorses governance proposals

12 December 2006

The Auckland Regional Council has endorsed proposals to strengthen Auckland’s regional governance but with a number of conditions attached.

A paper entitled “Strengthening Auckland’s Regional Governance Proposals” is currently being considered by all Auckland councils prior to being delivered to the Minister of Local Government on Friday.

ARC Chairman Michael Lee says the creation of a stronger regional entity as proposed in the paper is a step in the right direction but must be cost effective and accompanied by new funding sources.

“As we have said throughout this process, any changes in governance should benefit ratepayers. They should definitely not increase the already heavy financial burden Auckland’s ratepayers face.”

The resolutions passed by the ARC at its meeting yesterday are as follows:

a) That the report be received.

b) That the paper entitled “Strengthening Auckland’s Regional Governance Proposals” be received.

c) That it be noted that the proposal outlined in pages 29 to 34 of the attachment constitutes a package of reforms which are largely inter-dependent, particularly if broad agreement amongst the councils in the Auckland region is to be achieved.

d) That Auckland Regional Council endorses the proposal to strengthen Auckland’s regional governance as outlined in pages 29 to 34 of the attachment as a submission from the Auckland region to the government subject to the following:

* That the strengthened regional entity be the existing Auckland Regional Council with existing representation arrangements.

* That the ARC supports the use of Watercare surpluses for water related purposes but is opposed to a dividend approach being followed.

* Return of Watercare Services Ltd to ARC ownership and governance to achieve clear, streamlined and democratic decision-making, stronger alignment and integration with other regional functions (urban form, transport, economic development, parks) and greater stewardship of public assets in the long-term interests of the region;

* Any new or additional responsibility for economic development activities must be accompanied by new funding sources as an alternative to rates;

* Any new funding responsibility for Regional facilities or amenities must be accompanied by a process for reaching agreement over definition, scope and criteria. Any transfer of related rating responsibility from TA’s to the Regional Council must be transparent and fiscally neutral. The Regional Council will need in addition access to new funding sources as an alternative to rates.

* Changes to the Transport Services Licensing Act and Land Transport NZ passenger transport procurement rules;

* Civil Defence Emergency Management as a responsibility of the ARC;

* That governance arrangements for regional parks remain as a committee of the Regional Council.

* Public consultation as set out in the Proposal.

* A clearer definition of the roles of Regional Councils, City and District Councils and Community Boards.

* That the ARC expresses its concern that the strengthening of the regional government process has not addressed the cost of local government including measures that may address these issues including

- Shared services

- Common building consents/ charges

- Common rates billing

e) That if broad agreement is achieved amongst the councils in the Auckland region, then joint (or co-ordinated) public consultation on the proposals be undertaken in February/March 2007.

f) That the Political Reference Group be empowered to conduct ongoing discussions with government ministers as to the refinement and implementation of the proposal.

g) Delegate to the Chairman and Deputy Chair of Council authority to approve a submission to Government expressing the Council’s position including:

* In particular expanding on the case for the return of Watercare to the ARC.

* Also a brief explanation of the ARC MUL policies.

* Reasons for the ARC’s opposition to a regional Mayor/Chair elected at large.

* Inclusion of the ARC preferred structure wiring diagram as set out in the ARC’s preferred option paper.

The “Strengthening Auckland’s Regional Governance Proposals” paper together with the ARC’s resolutions and those of all the other Auckland councils will be considered by central government. Legislation will be introduced in time for next year’s local government elections if required.

ENDS


Note to media: The “Strengthening Auckland’s Regional Governance Proposals” paper referred to in this media release is available at www.strongerauckland.org.nz.

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