Councillor in conflict
The Matamata-Piako District Council is asking for ratepayer submissions on council funding of the proposed Te Aroha Events Centre, funding that would have to come from more borrowing.
The council envisages that the whole district would then be up for extra rates to cover the costs of this project, not just Te Aroha ratepayers.
However, one of the councillors is a very high-profile member of the charitable trust raising funds for this centre and seeking money from the council. A huge conflict of interest thus exists. So what will this councillor do at voting time – abstain from voting?
That is not good enough, he was elected to represent Te Aroha ward ratepayers and by abstaining deprives the same ratepayers from a voice in the council’s boardroom.
Before any decision is made by the council on this funding issue, because there is a lot of money at stake and for the sake of good order and democratic transparency, this councillor should resign from the council immediately and a by-election called.
It is not uncommon for an elected councillor to have a conflict of interest in a specific issue. The conflict may be financial or simply perceived. In these cases the councillor advises the meeting that he/she has a conflict of interest and they take no part in either the discussion nor the voting. In this specific matter the councillor has formally advised his conflict and withdrawn from the process. Over the last 12 months there have been several declared conflicts by councillors.