The Local Government Amendment Bill has been produced without proper consultation with ratepayers, who'll inevitably
face bigger rates demands if the Bill is passed in its present form, says the Local Government Forum*.
Forum Chairman Rob McLagan told the select committee considering the Bill that it would promote council activities that
could drastically increase the cost of local government. Already over the past 10 years, rates have increased at twice
the rate of inflation.
Mr McLagan tabled a list of recommended amendments for changes to the Bill, including:
* more accountability and transparency requirements including thebenchmarking of council performance
* guidelines for revenue policies, to ensure fairness between different types of ratepayers
* an independent review body to deal with disputes between local bodies and ratepayers
* specifying the roles and responsibilities of local and regional councils, to avoid duplication
* ratepayer-initiated referenda for issues like rating formulae, or the entry or exit from major services or
Mr McLagan said while central and local government had been extensively consulted over the Bill, ratepayers had not, and
business ratepayers, who pay around 50% of all rates, would be particularly affected by the Bill's provisions.
"The Local government Amendment Bill considerably extends the powers of local authorities, without commensurate
accountability safeguards and ratepayers require more protection than is afforded by this Bill," Mr McLagan said.