INDEPENDENT NEWS

Grey Power Cautiously Optimistic about Local Govt Reform

Published: Tue 20 Mar 2012 01:56 PM
Grey Power Cautiously Optimistic about Local Government Reform.
Grey Power local Government spokesperson Miles Jackson, says Grey Power welcomes yesterdays moves to introduce reform plans for local bodies.
Grey Power has for sometime been concerned about councils spending outside their core responsibilities, such as roading, water, drainage, libraries etc. as well as excessive salaries for some senior managers.
Let’s hope that the days of nice to have, but unaffordable projects, such as V8 car races, art galleries and sports stadiums are over.
We believe one council in New Zealand is planning an Arts centre/ Museum which was originally expected to cost $9.4 million, but has now jumped a further $4 million; these sorts of projects require more robust cost scrutiny to ensure no or minimal cost over-runs so that the extra costs do not fall on ratepayers. If a project is likely to bring business to a district let business front with the monies.
The recent rugby world cup has left many local councils with huge interest bills on new stadiums. The new seasons’ Super Rugby competition already illustrates that there is insufficient patronage to cover required overheads leaving ratepayers to pick up the shortfall as the debacle in Dunedin clearly shows. Ratepayers have to contribute some $400,000 to cover the debt that the Dunedin City council forgave last week. It has been suggested that there may be a need for an independent body to analyse whether rugby unions are about to become the next drain on the public purse in much the same way finance companies were.
Another area of concern is the excessive amount spent on planning. One council in New Zealand is reported to have spent 22% of its budget this activity. One has to question what the use of a 10 year plan which very few read is.
Let’s hope that the Local Government reforms go some way to alleviating the concerns of many rate payers, particularly the elderly.
ENDS

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