Who will pick up tab for other essentials?
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.