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Your questions Answered - Kaipara Commissioner - John Robertson: Parliament progresses Rates Bill


john robertsonThe Kaipara District Council (Validation of Rates and Other Matters) Bill progressed through another stage in Parliament on November 13. The Bill was recommended to Parliament for passing into law by the Select Committee. The House endorsed this by a vote of 112 for, and 8 against.

Kaipara has received more than its fair share of national attention over the past two years. The careful consideration of the merits of the Bill by the Local Government and Environment Select Committee drew attention to our challenges once again. Kaipara needs Parliament’s help to tidy up some of Council’s chequered history. The fact that we have support across most of the political spectrum is comforting.

The record of some of the contributions to the debate is given below.

“So, despite our distaste for validation legislation, the Local Government and Environment Select Committee has unanimously supported this Bill. Unanimously because we believe it is an essential part of a sensible and reasonable plan towards rectifying the very messy and very difficult financial situation that Kaipara residents and the Council have found themselves in.” (Nicky Wagner, Chair of the Select Committee, National, MP Christchurch Central)

“We recognise that elements of the governance of the Kaipara District Council were unsatisfactory over a period of time, and led to the problems that this Bill addresses. We hope this Bill, while limited in scope, will contribute to a resolution of the issues so the Council and its ratepayers can move forward.” (Phil Twyford, Labour, MP Te Atatu)

“We are reluctantly supporting the Bill because it does seem to be the only way forward to put the Kaipara community on a sounder financial footing.” (Eugenie Sage, Green, MP)

“This Bill is the best solution to fix some of the irregularities so that Council can continue to function.” (Maggie Barry, National, MP North Shore)

What about penalties?
The Bill validates not only the “irregular” rates, but also penalties applied to them where property owners have withheld rates. Nevertheless, at the request of the Select Committee, I have undertaken to seek the waiving of some of these penalties. The Council meeting set down for December 17 will consider this matter.

The OAG Report – a date for release is set
The Office of the Auditor General has announced that the report on the inquiry into the Mangawhai community wastewater scheme will be tabled in Parliament on December 3, and will be presented in Kaipara at two public meetings, both set down for Mangawhai and Maungaturoto on the same date.

The Auditor General will brief the community on the report the same day at:

■ 2pm – The Mangawhai Club, Molesworth Drive, Mangawhai Heads, Mangawhai (this meeting may be delayed if there is a delay in tabling the report in Parliament)

■ 6.30pm – Maungaturoto Country Club, Bickerstaffe Road, Maungaturoto

Both sessions will cover the same information.

One Council for Northland?
As if a Bill and an OAG Inquiry is not enough, Kaipara residents have another matter to consider. The Local Government Commission has put out a proposal for reorganising Local Government in Northland. The proposal is for one Council to replace four, being the Kaipara, Far North and Whangarei District Councils and the Northern Regional Council. One Mayor would be elected at large, and nine Councillors elected from wards. The proposal is available on the Local Government Commission’s website, www.lgc.govt.nz. Submissions have been called for, with a closing date of 14 February 2014.

The KDC Commissioners are facilitating public meetings to help inform you on this proposal, including in Mangawhai on November 26 in the Senior Citizens Hall at 6pm. Even if you like the concept of one Council for Northland, there is some detail in the proposal that you may wish to submit on, like how the debt for each Council is proposed to be dealt with.

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