Super-city not a big drawcard
Porirua residents don’t seem too bothered about Wellington going the super-city way.
The Local Government Commission ran two meetings in Porirua last Thursday to discuss a proposed Wellington super-city and only 35 people attended.
Those present raised everything from rating and voting systems to whether there would be Maori or gender equality on the new council.
More than 80 people attended a similar Local Government Commission meeting in Lower Hutt earlier this month.
The commission is working through submissions from some of the eight city and district councils and the regional council that come under Wellington Regional Council umbrella. In addition, it has received 19 other submissions.
Porirua meeting chairman Basil Morrison said if there was enough support for change from the meetings a draft proposal would be released early next year.
‘‘We are affecting people’s lives significantly here,’’ he said.
‘‘The challenge that we’ve got is getting into a public forum and getting people’s support.
‘‘We are looking at the next 20 to 30 years of local government here.’’
He said the draft plan would discuss the idea of a single unitary authority or retention of some form of the current system.
One woman wanted to know if a new structure would have enough clout with the Government to get things done.
‘‘Who is the region’s voice? We hear all about how Auckland has a voice to talk to the Government, but who is our voice?’’ she said.
Commissioner Grant Kirby said a single voice was working well for Auckland.
‘‘They have some serious clout now that they didn’t have before,’’ he said.
Regional councillor Jenny Brash said she was concerned a new structure would convert assets into council-controlled organisations, which are run as businesses.
‘‘That needs a public debate. I would hate for that to just happen without proper public debate,’’ she said.
A member of Grey Power suggested scrapping the current rates system and replacing it with an income-based tax.
Mr Morrison said the idea was outside the purview of the commission.
He said the commission recognised the concern residents had about rates increases.
‘‘Every meeting we go to there are people with aunts, uncles, cousins in Auckland whose rates have gone through the roof,’’ he said.
‘‘We don’t like to use the A word too much because that tends to get people worked up.’’
The number of local representatives was a concern for many who felt fewer councillors for Porirua would hurt democracy.
The commissioners said that if a super-city was created, local boards would be delegated some authority for their areas.
One man questioned the cost of running for a local board seat, which he said would be too expensive for ordinary citizens.
Mr Morrison said if a draft plan was released, there would be a further period of consultation with the public.
If a structural change took place, it would not occur before November 2015, he said.
The commission is holding a further nine meetings over the next few weeks.