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Loss of elected reps in Ak could cost ratepayers

THE nationwide CAMPAIGN TO reform the council rating system
media release
22 November 2009

[Statement from David Thornton]

Loss of elected representatives in the New Auckland could cost ratepayers dearly..

Bureaucrats will rule the roost.

If the Local Government Commission’s draft reorganisation proposals are put in place ratepayers in the Auckland region will be faced with a savage reduction in the number of elected representatives who they elect to control and influence expenditure decisions and rates increases.

With too few elected representatives to hold bureaucrats to account the bureaucracy will inevitably grow, at a cost much greater than paying for a few more elected representatives in the local communities.

The Commission’s proposals cut the number of elected members in the Auckland region to about half to a total of less than 150 – with just 21 of that number controlling the total rates income across the region of more than $2 billion annually.

Those 21 are the Mayor and the Auckland councillors.

The balance of the elected representatives, 126, will sit on19 Local Boards.

In the grand scheme of re-organisation these Local Boards will be charged with ‘engaging with the community’ on questions of local services and rates levels – and communicating the results of that engagement to the Auckland Council.

But the Local Governmnet Commission has made draft proposals which reveal huge imbalances in representation on Local Boards.

Residents in Papakura will be served by one Board Member for each 8,800 population – while in Henderson each Board Member will serve a population of 20,450, which is a huge disparity.

Residents in Three Kings will have a ratio of one member to 9,633 population, while Howick residents will have one member per 14,033 of its population.

The ability for greater ‘community engagement’ – one of the deficiencies recognised by the Royal Commission – will differ wildy across the region.

Ratepayers across the region have expressed deep concerns that this SuperCity council will be remote and will have little regard for ratepayers views – and loss of fair and equal representation will enhance these concerns.

These wild fluctuations in representation ratios strike at the very heart of a democratic society in which everyone’s vote should of equal value.

The Local Government Commission’s proposals will destroy that equality of the power of the vote.

And if ratepayers do not have adequate representation their power to influence spending decisions and rates increases will be hugely diminished.

WIihout sufficient oversight from democratically elected representatives the bureaucrats will rule the roost, and citizens will lose their voice.


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