NEWS AND YOUR VIEWS FOR OUR DISTRICT

      

20-Mar-12

Grey Power call to replace council

by Paul Campbell

Kaipara Grey Power has called on the government to oust the Kaipara District Council and replace its functions with a statutory manager

The move reflects similar concerns expressed by the Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association, and Farmers of New Zealand, in the face of the council’s $85 million dollar debt, the highest per capita of any council in New Zealand, and its projected 31.5 per cent rates rise.

A motion raised by Gary Hooker at a meeting in Dargaville strongly opposed the rates rise and called on the Minister for Local Government, Nick Smith, to replace the council with a statutory manager, a move echoed by Grey Power in other regions where local council debt is skyrocketing.

The motion was approved ‘that this meeting of Kaipara Grey Power being well aware of the financial inability of most ratepayers to meet extraordinary rate demands, strongly opposes significant rate increases being contemplated by Kaipara District Council as well as the unnecessary waste of ratepayers funds on the District Plan process, and calls upon the Minister of Local Government to urgently replace Kaipara District Council with a statutory manager’.

The meeting discussed concerns for how pensioners will afford rates rises and agreed that for many, the only discretionary money was for food and that was where savings to pay the rates would have to come from.

In other developments:

  • In the face of local government debt, which has ballooned from $2 billion to $8 billion across the country, Nick Smith has sharply brought forward plans for a major shake-up to rein in rising rates and debt. Significant changes to the legislation were signed off by Cabinet on Monday with Mayor Neil Tiller joining mayors and council chief executives summoned from around the country to Wellington for briefings over this week.

  • The Office of the Auditor-General has announced the terms of reference for the inquiry into the Mangawhai EcoCare wastewater scheme, which is responsible for a large proportion of KDC debt. All ratepayers that have a complaint about any aspect of EcoCare are encouraged to make submissions, with any complaint treated in confidence.

  • A revitalised Kaipara Citizens and Ratepayers Association says it is embarking on ‘a massive’ membership drive. Newly elected chairman, Ron Manderson, says this will be accompanied by a fund — seeking campaign with the association determined to become a unifying body to help deal with Kaipara’s local government financial crisis, and the projected increases in rates. “We will look to a public meeting in due course to enlighten the community on what action can best assist in this,” he added. The KCRA annual meeting saw Don Elliot elected vice-chairman, and Graham Jones as secretary-treasurer.

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