12 November 2008
Mayor calls on new government to invest locally
Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan of Kapiti, has challenged the National Government to make local government a high priority during the next three years.
“I want to see local government right up there on the Government’s priority list and I urge Mr Key to put an experienced senior minister on the case,” she said today.
Ms Rowan says there’s hardly a district in New Zealand that’s not “severely troubled” by the prospect of putting up rates in a time of economic uncertainty and hardship.
National has done well in the provincial centers and now has a “golden opportunity” to make a difference by giving something back to these areas through investing in local projects, she says.
“One of the things driving local government expenditure is increasing expectation from Central Government for us to pick up the tab and take responsibility. In the last eight years there have been more than 60 new laws or regulations that have transferred responsibilities from central to local government,” she says
“In the last year alone it has cost the Kapiti Coast District $500,000 to provide district-wide UV treatment for our water. New regulations around building accreditation have put up fees for building permits by 15-20 per cent and have seen the Council take on two new staff to manage the work load. The management of the Government’s rates rebate scheme is still another example.”
Ms Rowan says while she supports many of the new initiatives, Councils around the country invariably end up doing all the work and paying additional contractors to manage the workload.
She says traditionally National governments have “been wanting” in their relationships with local government and she wants to see the new Key Government work in partnership with local councils to deliver benefits for New Zealanders.
“Dollars invested in local infrastructure will keep the local economy turning over and help us work our way through the down-side of the credit crunch – I strongly encourage the new Minister of Infrastructure to make local government a prime site for investment.
“Consideration of a package to provide rates relief to struggling families and the elderly should be considered and there should be more investment in social, sports and cultural facilities,” she says.
“Under the Local Government Act we are supposed to provide for the social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being of our communities.
“I believe all these responsibilities are fitting for modern territorial authorities, but they do come at a cost and one that is increasingly hard to manage in low-income districts such as ours. Sharing the costs of this responsibility is something the Government needs to urgently address,” she says.
Ms Rowan says Kapiti has been very fortunate to have had two high quality electorate MPs in Winnie Laban and Darren Hughes, and it appears that good fortune will continue with the election of Nathan Guy.
“I want to specially congratulate Winnie Laban on being re-elected. She’s been an outstanding MP for us.
“Its great to know that we haven’t lost Darren – because he’s still on the list, and, of course we’ve also gained another high-quality list MP in Hekia Parata.” she says.
Ms Rowan paid tribute to out-going Prime Minister Helen Clark who she described as “an outstanding and inspirational leader.”
“I believe history will review her as one of our finest,” she said.