Who will pick up tab for other es­sen­tials?

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - SOAPBOX -

Cen­tral gov­ern­ment is call­ing for sweep­ing re­forms for lo­cal coun­cils with talk of par­ing back lo­cal gov­ern­ment func­tions to es­sen­tial lo­cal ser­vices such as waste, water, roads, li­braries and grant­ing con­sents.

We’d all like the level of rates to go down so I’d wel­come a move to­ward a fairer shar­ing of costs be­tween cen­tral gov­ern­ment and ratepay­ers.

But we need to see the de­tail be­hind these ideas be­fore we can see how such changes would ap­ply in prac­tice to Marl­bor­ough.

The Marl­bor­ough Dis­trict Coun­cil is a low debt coun­cil which un­der­went ma­jor re­or­gan­i­sa­tion to be­come a uni­tary au­thor­ity.

The way we de­liver road­ing is per­haps the most fis­cally ef­fi­cient model in the coun­try; sav­ings are pop­u­la­tion and hous­ing growth, in­dus­trial growth and the sub­se­quent in­fras­truc­tural de­mands.

Re­mem­ber, too, that rates in­creases are of­ten shoul­dered by those di­rectly ben­e­fit­ing from the projects they’re levied to pay for.

For ex­am­ple, the South­ern Val­leys’ ir­ri­ga­tion scheme brought a con­sid­er­able in­crease in rates rev­enue but ratepay­ers out­side the scheme paid no more.

Other big, costly projects have re­sulted from cen­tral gov­ern­ment en­forc­ing stan­dards for lo­cal gov­ern­ments to meet.

So, while cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s call to keep rates down is un­der­stand­able, we now need to hear about the next step; how gov­ern­ment will de­liver on its own poli­cies and stan­dards if it doesn’t want them funded through the rat­ing sys­tem.

*Alis­tair Sow­man is the Marl­bor­ough mayor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.