Local Government wants to keep the environmental, social, cultural and economic wellbeings in the Local Government Act:
Speaking from Local Government New Zealand’s conference, President Lawrence Yule said a unanimous statement at the LGNZ’s Annual General Meeting sent a powerful message to government that the existing legislation allowed councils to add most value to communities.
“Councils have been criticised by the Government for supposedly working in areas that are not core. Yet most of these activities are picked up because of the failure of central government and the private sector to deliver them. . .
Successive Central Governments have passed on responsibilities – and the costs that go with them – to local authorities.
But if the private sector doesn’t deliver goods or services it’s usually for a very good reason – they can’t do so at a profit – and if private sector can’t then it would be very surprising if local government could.
“However, the vast majority of council activity and spending is on water, roading and similar activities.
“The four wellbeings are not putting cost pressures on councils, but the fast rising prices for essential supplies such as bitumen for roading are,” Mr Yule said.
“The wellbeings provide clarity. If they are removed, councils will be open to politically-motivated challenges regarding their activities, which will cost millions. The lawyers will be the winners; ratepayers will lose out.
“Charging councils with the wellbeings of their communities has been maligned by people who don’t necessarily know as much about local government as they claim. The current set up works well.
Councils might spend most on core business but the relatively small proportion of the spend on non-core functions and projects doesn’t make them any more affordable.
The four wellbeings might provide clarity to councils, but to many ratepayers they are a licence to increase the size and cost of council which always leads to an increase in rates.