Chicago learns from Waipa
The initiatives of how Waipa District Council engages with its ratepayers may be used as a blueprint for the American city of Chicago.
Waipa council hosted two Illinois county administrators as part of an exchange programme by the International City and County Managers Association.
The reciprocal arrangement allowed two high ranked local government administrators to visit other councils in order to gain an understanding of how each operates.
Visiting Waipa was Stephanie Hawkins who is the county administrator for Geneva, population about 22,000, and husband Bob Palmer holds a similar position in the township of South Barrington in Cook County, which has a population of 4600.
Both counties are part of seven districts which make up the city of Chicago.
Palmer was surprised by the similarities in governance between both countries.
‘‘Structurally in the United States we have a lot of tiers of government and they differ in each state,’’ he said.
In New Zealand it appears to work seamlessly and inspired by what the district offered.
‘‘How the council’s district wide branding (Home of Champions) is a foundation pillar to work from was great.
‘‘This is reflected in the way the assets like the velodrome and the rowing centre are both centrally located.’’
He said Chicago had similar issues to New Zealand such as clean water, affordable housing and immigration. Housing was especially a hot topic. ‘‘One of the major issues we face is building enough housing for the elderly.
‘‘When we had the opportunity to do something about it, it brought out so much opposition from others who didn’t want to see high density cluster housing.’’
Hawkins was impressed with the Waipa council’s vision.
‘‘Waipa is very visionary, and looks beyond today and tomorrow.
‘‘Some of the things noted was the councils ten-year plan is always referred to when making decisions.
‘‘In the states no one cares or even knows what the county provides so I am taking back the ideas from Waipa and am hoping we can use their engagement models in our county.