The great su­per-city con

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Ratepay­ers are be­ing conned. The pro­posed Welling­ton su­percity of­fers res­i­dents and ratepay­ers noth­ing but higher rates and less in­flu­ence on how they are spent.

With­out any ratepayer or res­i­dent man­date or con­sul­ta­tion, our coun­cil made a uni­lat­eral sub­mis­sion sup­port­ing re­gional amal­ga­ma­tion.

The same coun­cil­lors and se­nior man­age­ment team who have led Porirua near to go­ing broke and sup­port amal­ga­ma­tion will have key roles in the su­per-city.

Do we want the same peo­ple mak­ing the same mis­takes but with more dol­lars at stake?

De­spite our cur­rent high rates, they are still re­versible, but not if we amal­ga­mate with a high-cost city – Welling­ton.

For ex­am­ple, Welling­ton’s hilly ter­rain and old, nar­row roads, mean its road­side rub­bish col­lec­tion costs are sig­nif­i­cantly higher than Porirua’s.

Porirua ratepay­ers would be sub­si­dis­ing Welling­ton ratepay­ers’ rub­bish col­lec­tion.

Welling­ton has enor­mous leaky build­ing li­a­bil­i­ties, and big­ger still li­a­bil­i­ties for earth­quake strength­en­ing of build­ings.

Do we still want to sub­sidise Welling­ton ratepay­ers?

The su­per-city plan dis­closes no cost sav­ings, be­cause there are none, based on the Auck­land ex­pe­ri­ence.

Only a few Auck­land su­per-city cost sav­ings have ma­te­ri­alised, and with the ex­cep­tion of staffing, are mi­nor.

But when you an­a­lyse the Auck­land staff sav­ings, th­ese have been achieved by re­duc­ing the num­ber of li­brar­i­ans, clean­ers, parks and gar­dens staff – im­por­tant peo­ple who do mean­ing­ful work, and make a dif­fer­ence.

In con­trast, while Auck­land manager num­bers have fallen, pay and perks have in­creased to the point to­tal man­age­ment costs are greater than be­fore amal­ga­ma­tion (in­fla­tion ad­justed).

Sav­ings can be achieved by co­op­er­a­tion, with­out any amal­ga­ma­tion costs.

For ex­am­ple, there can be stan­dard plan­ning pro­cesses, along the lines that al­ready ex­ist be­tween Porirua and Kapiti.

If amal­ga­ma­tion is go­ing to work, then the su­per-city will have to di­rect growth to ar­eas that can han­dle it.

So not Porirua, where most of our wa­ter stor­age and sew­er­age sys­tems are run­ning at or above 100 per cent ca­pac­ity.

In­stead, growth should be en­cour­aged in ar­eas with spare ca­pac­ity, and dis­cour­aged where it’s lack­ing.

The ex­pected cost of amal­ga­mat­ing the ex­ist­ing coun­cils and cre­at­ing a Welling­ton su­per-city re­cently in­creased to $210 mil­lion, equiv­a­lent to $450 each for ev­ery adult and child in the re­gion.

Based on the Auck­land ex­pe­ri­ence, that num­ber will nearly dou­ble be­fore com­ple­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Fran Wilde and Nick Leggett, the benefits are ‘‘speak­ing with one voice’’ and re­gional co-or­di­na­tion.

Elect me and oth­ers of a sim­i­lar mind to lo­cal and re­gional coun­cils, and I’m sure we can bang some heads to­gether, and get com­mon­sense con­sen­sus with­out the cost of amal­ga­ma­tion.

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