Coun­cils move from merg­ers to shar­ing

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By STEVE ED­WARDS

While local au­thor­i­ties in the Waikato, in­clud­ing Mata­mataPi­ako District Coun­cil, con­tinue to look at shar­ing ser­vices, talk of merg­ers has gone on the back burner.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako Mayor Hugh Ver­coe, who chairs the Waikato May­oral Fo­rum, said amal­ga­ma­tion was ‘‘ not an area we wish to pur­sue’’.

Though be­liev­ing that some change was in­evitable at the time of the 2016 coun­cil elec­tions, he said this would more likely re­late to ser­vices and who de­liv­ered them than bound­aries. Speak­ing to the Mata­mata Chron­i­cle af­ter a fo­rum meet­ing last week, Mr Ver­coe said it was ‘‘not in the best in­ter­ests’’ of Mata­mataPi­ako to amal­ga­mate with any of its neigh­bours.

He said the col­lec­tive coun­cils had changed their stance through a ‘‘soft­en­ing’’ of local govern­ment re­forms an­nounced ear­lier this year.

At last week’s meet­ing, the fo­rum de­cided to bud­get $100,000 – $7000 from MPDC – to look at shared ser­vices in road­ing, wa­ter and wastewater, plan­ning and gov­er­nance.

Mr Ver­coe said in­di­vid­ual work­ing par­ties, in­clud­ing may­ors and coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tives, would look at ‘‘where we are at now, and can we work bet­ter’’ in th­ese four ar­eas. The groups are to re­port to the fo­rum in two months.

Re­forms are due to be im­ple­mented by cen­tral Govern­ment in Septem­ber.

Res­i­dents can lobby the Local Govern­ment Com­mis­sion for changes in coun­cil struc­ture but Mr Ver­coe said they would have to show there was ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic sup­port’’ for such a move.

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